Dozens of people filled South Park in Lawrence Thursday night for an annual event to support survivors of domestic violence. Take Back the Night carried on, despite the storm.
“It’s an opportunity for the community to say this is enough,” said Audra Fullerton, director of community engagement at Willow Domestic Violence Center. “Women should be safe in their homes at night; women should be safe on their streets at night.”
Despite the steady falling rain, the audience listened as speakers addressed the crowd. One of the speakers included Kristin Tebow, a survivor of human trafficking. She told the group that she was at a bar in Manhattan when she believes a woman slipped something into her drink. The next thing she knew, she was surrounded by seven men in a Junction City hotel.
“By telling my story, I’m trying to put a face on it (human trafficking),” Tebow said.
Among the group of people who listened to Tebow’s story was Diane Doresky. She said she survived a brutal attack in Topeka.
“They almost killed me; they don’t know who it was,” Doresky said. “They broke my feet and my legs.”
Doresky said she was in the hospital for more than a month. The case remains unsolved. Although the case has no closure, she is attempting to find some for herself.
She said the Take Back the Night event was spiritual and moving.
“I’m lucky to be alive, so I’m very blessed,” Doresky said.
Organizers said the event was part of an international effort to support survivors of sexual assault, rape and violence. It included educational booths as well as a clothesline of T-shirts. On each T-shirt was a different story of survival.
“It helps people to be able to speak out and show that it (domestic violence) is larger than what we’re seeing and hearing about,” said Dominique Franklin, a Lawrence resident.
Fullerton said one in 10 women in Kansas is affected by domestic violence every year.
At the end of the event, those attending were invited to the gazebo to share their stories. A candlelight vigil followed. A march down Massachusetts Street was also planned, but organizers postponed it because of the rain. A future date has not been set.