Take Back the Night promotes dialogue on domestic violence

Lifestyle Reporter

Officials with the Texas State Student Health Center coordinated with the Student Involvement Fair to host the first Take Back the Night event April 13.

This rally was held as part of a nationwide promotion in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The event opened with a march that began at Old Main and concluded at the LBJ Student Center amphitheater. Ebony Stewart, alumna and three-time Slam Champion, performed her spoken-word poetry at the finale of the event.

Arlene Cornejo, health promotion specialist at the Student Health Center and event coordinator, said Take Back the Night shows students university officials provide a secure environment. The event provides a safe space and allows victims to speak out and share their stories.

“We hope the students that are participating feel that their voices were heard and feel as though this event can serve as an outlet for them,” Cornejo said.

Officials with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Men Against Violence (MAV) and the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center presented the resources they offer before the poetry event. 

“I hope they realize Texas State is here to help anyone regardless if it has happened before they came here or when they became students here,” Cornejo said. “We do have resources and outlets for them to start the healing process.”

Lucia Summers, NAMI Cats staff advisor and criminal justice assistant professor, said creating an open dialogue about domestic violence is beneficial to those who are affected.

“People don’t like talking about that, but the lack of awareness could be more damaging,” Summers said. “Some people, especially in some cultures, are ashamed. But it’s good to have these organizations that show people it is okay to speak out.”

Jemm Morris, health and wellness promotion senior, presented on the issue of violence in relationships.

“I feel passionate about this,” Morris said. “Whether they’ve admitted or not, we all know someone who has had some kind of experience with this, and that is relatable enough for me to want to speak about it.”  

Stewart encourages veteran speakers and newcomers to approach the microphone and talk about their experiences.

“I try to give people the opportunity (to speak) who didn’t think they could and then they watched others do it,” Stewart said. “And so then it breaks that wall down a little and gives them an opportunity to say and do and speak the truth and help them find that freedom.”

She said creating a required class in order to talk about detrimental events such as domestic violence is another way to give victims a protected environment.

“Teach humans to be humans,” Stewart said. “We learn through trial and error, and it shouldn’t have to be that way.”

Morris said rallies like Take Back the Night create a conversation about a topic often ignored and discarded.

“Vulnerability is relatable,” Morris said. “Just asking people to show up to the event has brought up so much. I think this is a huge part because it does spark the conversation, and then you get to meet other people that are going to be touched and be heartfelt.”