Archive for Friday, September 24, 2010

Survivors, supporters rally for Take Back the Night

Victims of domestic violence gathered in South Park Thursday night for the annual Take Back the Night event. Victims shared stories of their experiences and helped each other heal.

September 24, 2010


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.


Erin Graham 7 years, 4 months ago

Re-read the article and you will find your answers, young Jedi. Also has the answers you are seeking.

Irenaku 7 years, 4 months ago

Hedley: I believe the message is to say that domestic violence against anyone, regardless of gender, is wrong. I think the "Night" element is to draw attention to how women have historically not been able to walk safely at night due to their being targets for violent attacks. It has expanded a lot though, to include everyone. As violence against men happens much less than violence against women, this has historically been an event that represents women.

My concern, and it has been one for the past 6 years since I first attended this event, is that the event is advertised as an "all ages' gathering, and by implication, mothers, fathers and caregivers can bring their children. Well, the first time I attended this it was all fine and well until two women stood up in front of the microphone and did some kind of raunchy spoken-word beat poetry about detailed sexaul activity with multiple partners, lending and borrowing various sex toys (they named the sex toys specifically), etc. I was mortified that there were children at this gathering who looked to be anyhwere from 6 to 13 years of age. I attended the same event a few years later, and guess what? Same ladies, same poetry.

I have contacted the organizers various times to ask them if they might either A) refrain from including such explicit material to an "all ages" event, or B) include in the flyers around town that the event will have content that is not appropriate for children. I have yet to hear back from anyone. This is sad because my younger sister (she is 29) wanted to attend this event, and being a single mom, naturally planned to bring her 4 year old daughter. I sadly had to inform her that she might re-think it due to the content at the event. I contacted the organizers again for this one they just had to find out what might be at the event, and still have not heard back.

AmberVersola 7 years, 4 months ago

Hi Irenaku,

I'm one of the organizers of the event. I've been so since (and including) the 2007 event. Initially, I did so as a community representative, and currently serve on the committee as a NOW representative.

I understand that while past experiences with the event may have given you a bad impression, I encourage you to check out what the rally and march has evolved into. I've helped plan the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 events. In none of these years have we had the "beat poetry" to which you've eluded. Our events are advertised as family friendly, but we also make the disclaimer that the Clothesline project, the PantyLine Project, and the Speak Out circle are not censored. It is completely up to the individual parent as to what they want their child to know or be subjected to, and we do not judge anyone. Personally, I have brought my 6 year old son to Take Back the Night for years. He really enjoys the event -- especially the children's activities.

Our goal of this event is to eradicate both domestic violence and sexual assault through community education, awareness, and activism. It's my hope that people leave the event feeling inspired and strong. If you would like to see for yourself, it is our intention to reschedule the march.

I hope to see you there!

Amber Versola

notyourmom 7 years, 4 months ago

So, you've been organizing this for 4 years and you've managed to rustle up the support of "dozens of people" "many of whom are children" for women who are survivors of domestic violence (the very definition of which means that she has lived with her perpetrator) and had them listen to stories of stranger abduction and human trafficking? I've never heard of this event, and I talked to my contact at Willow earlier this week. I would love to find women in this community who have had similar experiences as me. Both to talk to those who are farther out from their experience, and to give support to those who are just starting to find themselves again. While I am angry that I am only hearing about this after the event is over, I think I would have been even more angry at the time wasted had I gone to it.

Irenaku 7 years, 4 months ago

Amber, Thank you for the response. I do not recall any clear wording on any flyers regarding the Speak Out Circle as being potentially inappropriate. While I respect that you choose to bring your son to this, I just cannot have my young niece or my son hearing graphic comments about genitalia and sex toys which I feel have NO place at an all ages event that is supposed to bring awareness about domestic violence. I know all about the Clothesline project and the Pantyline Project. I am a survivior of abuse and an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights. I am a feminist with some radical and some more conservative views. I am also a WGSS major and have done quite a bit of research on both domestic violence and other more broad "Women's Issues". I simply do not feel that this one aspect of your rally is appropriate. And it is sad that you would insist on having it at the expense of those of us who do not wish to expose our children to it. Hope it is worth it, it is unfortunate that my sister was not able to attend.

Irenaku 7 years, 4 months ago

Amber, I would also like to add that if you do choose to have people at the Speak Out who are going to be reading poetry with inappropriate content to be asked to do so somewhere else on the park grounds for people who want to hear it so parents are not caught off guard the way I have been in the past. OR...have a time slot for "Spoken Word" poetry seperate from the other Speak Out things so people can choose to stay and listen or leave with their children. Again, I am frustrated that my sister was not able to attend for fear of what my niece may have heard. She was going to drive from Topeka to attend, she is much more conservative than I am and wanted to attend this event both out of interst and support. It is a shame that the impression she has gotten is a negative one!

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 4 months ago

Was there any talk of concealed carry or practical defensive suggests or was it all about the angry poetry?

notyourmom 7 years, 4 months ago

I took a self defense course about a year after I got out, and it may be one of the most empowering things I have ever done for myself. I'm not sure a concealed carry would be benificial in a domestic violence situation becasue the perpatrator and victim may still be living together, But, I think everyone should know how to defend themselves in a close contact situation, male or female.

cutny 7 years, 4 months ago

Yo Glock. Maybe you could answer your own question by reading the article. Sounds like you got some mad defensive "suggests," to offer. Go volunteer to show what you know! I'm sure it would be appreciated.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 4 months ago

I read the story. It stated there were "educational booths" but it didn't state what was being offered. I am sorry that I typed incorrectly. I obviously meant "suggestions" and not "suggests." My point is that, from my experience, these events often stress an idealized view of the world (women should be safe) rather than what is often the reality (women are frequently not safe). As a result, when self-defense is discussed it is often impractical. I don't have teaching experience, but there are certainly people who do who might be interested in volunteering.

AmberVersola 7 years, 4 months ago

Hi Gl0ck0wn3r,

We will take your comments into consideration. However, I also want to stress to you that the correct message isn't to tell women (and men) how not to get raped. It's to tell the community that it is not acceptable to rape other people.

notyourmom 7 years, 4 months ago

The community is aware and these things still happen. To tell women that these things "shouldn't" happen, but leave them vulnerable for when they do happen is a diservice to women everywhere.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 4 months ago

Why must there be a dogmatic insistence on one message? Why can't multiple messages be part of the program. Obviously one should be taught that rape is not acceptabl and one wishes that people should not need to be taught to avoid violence. Unfortunately, the real world does not mirror these hopes. Insisting on a dogmatically idealized event is akin to suggesting that people need not weat seat belts when driving because you want to teach them that they shouldn't need to protect themselves because, in an ideal world, cars wouldn't collide.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago

This event has come a long way; the original "Womyn Take Back the Night" was very militantly anti-male. Media was asked not to send male reporters, men were banned from their march or even speaking publically to the crowd (even in a act of solidarity.).

Unfortunately men are increasingly becoming victims of women as well as other men (domestic partner/husband) in domestic violence and there are both boys and girls who are molested and sexually assulted by both women and men.

It really is encouraging that this even has become more accepting and tolerant.

traveller83 7 years, 4 months ago

What an amazing statement that these folks were out in the rain standing up for their cause and making the statement that they would not be stopped!

I tend to try and avoid dignifying comments with a response...must be a day of weakness for me.

As far as the issue of children...there are many children there and their artwork posted telling their stories. Often children are victims of violence and abuse also- I understand shielding one's own but they also may learn something. TBTN had a children's area with fun activities including educational info about there own safety. I have been for 3 yrs and haven't seen innappropriate rap so I can not speak to that.

This event is about many kinds of violence- there was a speaker that focused on human trafficking. All are invited to the speak out circle to tell any story of violence or abuse.

Sounds like more folks need to make it out and participate before becoming so critical...but that is usally the case.

SWJayhawk13 7 years, 4 months ago

As a DV survivor and someone that attended TBN, it was an amazing, healing event for me, and it makes me sad to see so many people being judgmental and critical. TBN was an opportunity for survivors to come together and heal together. The booths that they had set up were very informational and I learned about a lot of new resources in the community. I got to participate in the Clothesline project for the first time, and it was a great experience. I started crying while I was making my t-shirt, I had so much pent-up emotions that ended up on that shirt. I was disappointed that the march down Mass St. didn't occur, but I can understand why. I would encourage any survivor (who is emotionally ready) to attend TBN. I am so glad that I finally did, I think it was a giant step in my healing process.

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