“Not one more.”
Those words broke the moment of silence for the victims of violence at the Take Back the Night Rally in downtown Lawrence.
Gretchen Auten, Take Back the Night steering committee member, continued: “Not one more murder. Not one more rape. Not one more unsafe home. We demand an end.”
More than 200 people gathered Thursday evening in South Park for the event, which is meant to raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence and bring empowerment to survivors.
“Violence affects everyone, and the purpose of this event is to eradicate that violence through activism, awareness and education and to give people a voice,” said Amber Versola, a survivor who shared her story with the crowd in South Park.
“The only way we’ll stop violence is by speaking out and joining together,” she added.
Bringing a large group together in solidarity and support is one of the most powerful aspects of Take Back the Night, said event organizer Jesse Jones of Women’s Transitional Care Services.
“If one person sees us banding together and hears us and then the next time they see violence, they speak up, it would be a success,” he said.
Many downtown patrons stopped, watched and heard the anti-violence slogans the group chanted as they moved from South Park and marched up Massachusetts Street.
The march ended in Watson Park with a candlelight vigil. Survivors could talk about their experience in an uncensored speak-out circle.
“Events like this give people a time when it’s safe to come out and speak about the things that have happened to them,” said Becca Lockwood, a KU graduate student. She said she has often come to the event. “I think it’s so important because victims of violence have to stay silent about it so often.”