OGDEN — Ogden’s annual “Take Back the Night” rally will spotlight domestic and relationship violence Friday at Ogden’s Union Station.
“Take Back the Night” events began in Belgium and England in the 1960s where women didn’t feel safe walking alone at night, according to the Take Back the Night Foundation. The rallies began in the United States in 1970s and and have continued on to today in an effort to empower and support those who have experienced sexual violence. This is the fifth year Weber State University has held such a rally.
Weber State Women’s Center Director Paige Davies said the event will begin at 6 p.m. followed by a keynote presentation from Jennifer Oxborrow, executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. Then, attendees will walk 25th Street.
Oxborrow said this kind of event is important because it sends a message of support to survivors of domestic or sexual violence.
“We understand this is happening, it’s not OK with us and we want to do something to prevent and address it within our communities,” she said.
This year’s event will focus more on domestic violence and relationship violence, something Davies said is more common in her experience at the Women’s Center than sexual violence perpetrated by a stranger.
“The event is take back the night and it’s been happening for decade but it makes it seem as though abuse happens at night,” she said. “There is more than one kind of violence.”
Since 2000, at least 42 percent of adult homicides were related to domestic violence according to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. The coalition also reported as of March 22, 12 domestic violence-related deaths have already taken place in Utah this year.
Worldwide, one in three women will experience some form of sexual violence or intimate partner violence according to the Take Back the Night Foundation, which also says fewer than 50 percent of victims report these crimes.
In Utah the numbers are higher. According to a 2015 report by the Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, one in eight women in Utah will experience rape in their lifetime, as will one in 50 men.
“This is intentional work to be more inclusive and talk about all forms of violence,” Davies said.
Oxborrow said most sexual violence happens at the hands of someone a victim knows. In fact, 51 percent of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 41 percent by an acquaintance, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
“It’s much more difficult to come forward to report something against someone who is part of your family, someone you maybe share custody with or share a home with,” she said. “It can have a lot of ramifications”
Oxborrow said events like this rally are an important part of counteracting such violence.
“It gives us a chance to talk about the unique dynamics of intimate partner violence and raises awareness in the community and for people who are experiencing it but aren’t identifying with the nuances of intimate partner violence,” she said.
After the march on 25th Street attendees are invited to meet back up at Union Station for a survivor speak-out. Those who have experienced sexual violence are welcome to share their stories as well as those who want to simply share their support.
Davies said not as many people usually stay for the speak-out, so it tends to be more intimate.
“We try to create a brave space for people to share their stories and we will have advocates present to kind of debrief if people need it,” she said.
Davies said about 100 people usually attend the rally depending on the weather. Those interested in attending this year are invited to make signs ahead of time at the Weber State Women’s Center in Shepherd Union Room 322 during normal business hours leading up to April 12. There will also be sign-making materials available at the event.
Davies said they will be giving away free t-shirts and snacks have been donated by Lavender Kitchen. There will also be therapy dogs in attendance and an American Sign Language interpreter.
Anyone seeking help regarding intimate partner violence can call the Utah domestic violence hotline at 1-800-897-5465. Oxborrow said there are free confidential advocates available to help in more than 100 languages. Callers don’t need to have engaged with law enforcement to get access to shelter and other assistance.