Survivors and advocates gathered for Take Back the Night in Lake Storey’s pavilion Tuesday night to speak out against domestic violence. The annual rally is hosted by Safe Harbor, a nonprofit community center in Galesburg. Knox students with Students Against Sexism in Society (SASS) and Sigma Nu also attended the event in support.
“It’s time to make a decision to rise up and take action,” said Hope Pendleton, advocate with Safe Harbor and leader of Knox’s Addressing Reality support group. Safe Harbor offers services for survivors of domestic violence including a safe house, support groups and a 24-hour crisis hotline.
The theme of this year’s rally was Awareness + Action = Change. While there were several keynote speakers, audience members were encouraged to take the mic at any moment to share their thoughts and experiences. Patti, an advocate with Safe Harbor who prefered to only go by her first name, was one of the speakers.
“I think it’s very important to let [survivors] have the opportunity to have their voices be heard. The community should know the impact [of domestic violence],” she said.
Though the event did not gather a huge crowd — roughly 40 people total — many audience members were Knox students.
“The fact that Take Back the Night exists and that people care about these issues gives me a lot of hope for the future,” said SASS member Francesca Downs. “We need to have a safe space where sexual assault survivors can freely express themselves.”
Knox College fraternity Sigma Nu was also in attendance. President Julian Tan spoke on behalf of the fraternity, stating that they want to promote a safe environment and do what they can to prevent sexual assault in their house and on campus.
“It is our responsibility to challenge the commonly held belief that plague Greek organizations by standing with those who commit themselves to the fight against violence in all its forms,” Tan said.
The rally included dinner, speeches and a candlelight vigil in honor of survivors of domestic violence. Safe Harbor displayed their contribution to the Clothesline Project which involves t-shirts strung along a clothesline, each a different color representing a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault.
“If there’s help there’s also hope,” Illinois State Representative Donald Moffitt said, an annual attendee of the rally which is now in its 23rd year.
Additional speakers included staff members at Safe Harbor, a detective from the Galesburg Police Department and Patrick Harlan, a local candidate for Congress. The detective urged bystanders to report any suspected domestic violence and to be a support system for survivors.
“Tonight’s about action,” Patti said. “It can be huge things such as having rallies and working to change legislature and voting. But it can be in smaller things. It’s a matter of showing respect to people and showing that their feelings are important.”