'Take Back the Night' Supports Abuse Survivors

A candlelight vigil called “Take Back the Night” attracted a crowd of more than 50 people to stand together in support of the survivors of abuse and exploitation on Thursday.

“We want people to know that they are cared for and are not alone,” said Alyssa R. Leader ’15, a member of Response Peer Counseling. The event was organized by Response, the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, and Harvard CAARE.

Take Back the Night, Through the Yard
Illuminated by candles and lights from the side of Holworthy, participants in Thursday's Take Back the Night Vigil make their way through the yard in a walk to Memorial Church.

Leader said she hopes people will “come together and embody the type of community that we hope to create and sustain for survivors of violence not just during Take Back The Night but every night.”

TBTN originated as a national movement in the 1970s and was recently brought to campuses around the nation in order to address and increase the dialogue about campus sexual violence, according to Leader. She emphasized the importance of TBTN in creating a non-judgmental, non-directive space for anyone wanting to discuss these issues.


“TBTN is a wonderful catalyst for what we hope will blossom into a much larger conversation on confronting rape culture and on generating sex-positivity” said Megan G. Jones ’16, a member of CAARE. Jones said CAARE hoped to empower, support, and respect those who spoke at the vigil.

Participants marched the perimeter of Harvard Yard holding candles during the event. Most of the walk was silent, though it was broken by regular stops during which participants read poems about thriving after enduring violence. The event concluded with a circle in front of Memorial Hall to hear letters written by anonymous survivors.

Reigniting Candles
A participant in Thursday's Take Back the Night Vigil reignites a fellow participant's blown out candle before continuing to walk around the Yard.

“It’s not about anger, tearing apart the perpetrators of the heinous crime that is rape,” said Cliff F. W. Goertemiller ’17, who attended the event. “It’s about empowerment and love, because that’s what will get the healing started.”

Harvard CAARE, Response, and OSAPR have planned another event in April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, according to Jones. On April 29, the groups have organized “Harvard Wears Denim,” a daylong event on which Harvard affiliates can show their solidarity by wearing denim or posting pictures of themselves in denim to social media outlets.


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