A woman walks alone down a dark, deserted street. With every shadow she sees and every sound she hears, her pounding heart flutters and skips a beat. She hurries her pace as she sees her destination become closer. She is almost there. She reaches the front door, goes inside, collects herself, and moves on, forgetting, at least for tonight, the gripping fear that momentarily enveloped her life.
Sound familiar? Most women will recognize that flutter in the pit of the stomach when walking in a parking garage or parking lot. This scene could have occurred anywhere last night, last year, or even 100 years ago. Approximately 1 in 6 women in the United States has experienced stalking at some point in her lifetime in which she felt very fearful or believed that she or someone close to her would be harmed or killed as a result. About 1 in 10 women has been stalked by an intimate partner. Historically, women faced the anxiety of walking alone at night and that is why “Take Back the Night” (TBTN) began.
The first documented TBTN event in the United States took place as a candlelight procession through the streets of Philadelphia in October 1975. Citizens of Philadelphia rallied together after the murder of young microbiologist, Susan Alexander Speeth, who was stabbed by a stranger a block from her home while walking alone.
TBTN’s supporters have always understood the power of speaking out. Rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and domestic violence are often labeled “crimes of silence” because of low reporting rates and social discomfort with their public discussion. Advocates at rallies, marches, candlelight vigils, and speak outs around the globe embody the spirit of TBTN to empower and support survivors, raise awareness, help those in pain, and assert that it is wrong for people to live in fear.
Schuylkill Women in Crisis (SWiC) is sponsoring the first TBTN event in Schuylkill County in downtown Pottsville Thursday, April 19. Co-sponsors are Penn State Schuylkill and McCann School of Business and Technology.
The event begins at 5 p.m. at the new Union Station. Men and women of all ages and children accompanied by an adult are invited to participate. Tables will be set up with activities and information. Then participants will walk along Centre street to the courthouse steps for guest speakers and the opportunity for survivors to share their voices. Let’s unite and walk in solidarity toward safety for all!
For more information about TBTN, go to www.takebackthenight.org or call Mary Jo or Darla at SWiC, 570.622.3991.
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