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Take Back The Night

Hailey Wilt |

On April 12, 2017, Radford University’s Substance Abuse and Violence Education Support (S.A.V.E.S) program held a “Take Back the Night” rally. With help from Radford’s Greek Life and the Women’s Resource Center, the campus witnessed its “Take Back the Night” rally happen for the first time in years. “Take Back the Night” is an international event and non-profit organization with the mission of ending sexual, relationship, and domestic violence.

Measures held within “Take Back the Night” often includes marches, rallies, and vigils. These proceedings are intended as protests and help to encourage direct action against rape and other forms of sexual, relationship and domestic violence. Falling into the same week as Radford University’s ‘Greek Week,’ the keynote speaker Tim Mousseau and the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign could not have occurred at a better time.

Tim Mousseau at first glance does not come off as someone who typically speaks on sexual assault, but in all actuality, he is the perfect person to speak on it because he was sexually assaulted. Choosing not to be defined as a victim nor a survivor, Tim chooses to travel and share his story. After being sent several vanilla envelopes of very detailed and horrific notes, Tim went on a conference trip and came back to something traumatic.

Opening the third envelope, Tim noticed that the package had a stamp and seal from the hotel he stayed at for his previous conference. Expecting it to be the hotel sending something back that he had forgotten, this was not the case. Within the envelope was picture evidence that he was sexually assaulted. No written letter, nothing along with it, just the picture of him. It was definitive that it was him due to the tattoos on the body in the picture.

Shortly after receiving this picture, Tim speaks of how his life fell into a numb darkness. He turned to drinking to cope with his past. Tim then proceeded to go to counseling, and he speaks of crying and crying until he realized he was no longer crying because of what happened but what that man left for his future. Purchasing a gun, his mother confronted him about her concerns in which he said, “Mom, I don’t care who is doing this. If they ever come after me, I will kill them.”.

At this point, he realized that he needed a change. Moving to a different apartment Tim began to listen more to his counselors and became prepared for the questions and comments he would receive upon sharing his story. Writing an article up on titled ‘To the Person Who Sexually Assaulted Me, I Forgive you,’ Tim Mousseau chose to forgive his attacker. Written on November 20, 2014, Tim had months of anger and pain until he decided one day to leave the dark. Upon knowing he had to forgive to forget, Tim goes on to write “You left me with this darkness but it is because of this I had to forgive you.”

Tim Mousseau’s keynote speech opened other organizations to join in the mission to educate Radford University’s students. “Take Back the Night” was in attendance and held after the speech was concluded. Missions like “It’s on Us” and “Help Save the Next Girl” were also in attendance the same night, as well as counselors and individuals from the Women’s Resource Center to help assist those who were hit hard by the presentation.

“It’s on Us” is held annually on Radford University’s campus and is led by Radford’s Alpha Chi Rho and Zeta Tau Alpha is an initiative to speak about sexual assault on college campuses. The initiative began in September of 2014 when then President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden launched it in hopes of educating those on college campuses. There was a big public service announcement that was released shortly after it was launched that had celebrities talking about the program.

The other initiative held that evening was “Help Save the Next Girl.” Help Save the Next Gil is a non-profit organization formed to honor Morgan Dana Harrington, who was a 20-year-old student from Virginia Tech. Harrington was abducted and killed in 2009, and the organization is used to help educate young females about predators and the steps you can take to ensure your safety. While it is titled “Help Save the Next Girl” their mission is to help youth in general, opening speeches and activities to young men as well.

According to (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), 11.2 percent of all students will experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. Despite the services I have listed, the statistics still show that only 20 percent of female student victim’s report the crime to law enforcement. One in six young college-aged women survivors received assistance from a call number or services agency.

These organizations and initiatives such as “Take Back the Night”, “It’s on Us”, and “Help Save the Next Girl” strive to educate the youth across the world about the steps you can take to prevent sexual assault, as well as the resources you have if you are a survivor of sexual assault. Do not forget that if you, or anyone you know, have been sexually assaulted you need to take immediate action and there are resources available 24/7. The phone number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673.

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