Students, community members march in UWSP 'Take Back the Night'

By Maria Szatkowski, WSAW News

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students and community members are recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month with different events throughout April. Wednesday evening, people came out to march across campus in an event called 'Take Back the Night.'

It's an annual event that takes place in April to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month. People marched with signs and chanted, to raise awareness to an issue that's seen on college campuses all across the country.

'Take Back the Night' is a program about sexual assault and sexual violence. It is a program trying to raise awareness about the real reality a lot of people have experienced and a lot of people live in fear of on a fairly daily basis," said Sophie Hart, an organizer of the march and a student at UW-Stevens Point.

"We think by being out here and by being visible, that there's something to be achieved by that. There's a lot of people out here saying 'this has happened to me too,'" said Hart.

Survivors of sexual assault joined the march, and were invited to share their stories with the people there supporting them.

"I think that a lot of people have been affected by sexual violence in some way or another. I think that a lot of people are survivors of sexual assault, I think that a lot of people know people who are survivors of sexual assault," said Hart.

"It gives me hope that people believe our stories and that people are here for us and want to help," said Allysa Anderson, a student at UW-Stevens Point and participant in Take Back the Night.

Although April is almost over, the awareness of sexual assault is everlasting.

"Awareness is important because it starts the conversation, and it gets people thinking about, even if it doesn't happen to someone that is important to you personally, it still happens to someone who is important and has inherent worth," said Hart.

"No one ever wants to be a victim, and until you are a victim it's hard to understand how it feels. I try to help other people understand how it feels and that you don't want to feel that way and you don't want anyone else to feel that way either," said Anderson.

Rep. Katrina Shankland also participated, and spoke with the group in support. This is an annual event, and it will be held again next April