"We need each other."

Survivors of sexual violence stand and share their stories

Take Back the Night returned on Sept. 26.
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As drums boomed across the open area of Confederation Basin, students and Kingston residents gathered to rally for Take Back the Night, an annual event protesting sexual and domestic violence. 
 
“I was never an angel, but the behavior that followed this attack was unbelievable,” Sara Kelly, a speaker at the Take Back the Night event, said on Thursday night. “I will always live with the memories and the fear he left with me that cold morning,” Kelly told the crowd.
 
She was sharing personal details of the sexual assault she survived in 2013. After the violence, Kelly said police took little action on her case, and said an officer convinced her that because of an absence of video surveillance and physical evidence, she couldn’t file charges. 
 
After violating six different women, however, Kelly’s perpetrator was finally arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison. 
 
“If the seriousness of even one of these crimes was considered, this could have been prevented,” she said. “It’s also been seven years since this happened and even though I lived with it every single day, I’m okay with it.”
 
“I know I did nothing wrong.”
 
Judy Munroe from the Kingston Anti-Violence Advisory Council (KAVAC) also talked about her experience with sexual assault and her journey to recovery. 
 
Munroe said she was hurt both physically and emotionally, and while physical harms will heal with time, she said it’s important for people to speak up about their emotional scars. 
 
“I took a while, but I didn’t shut my mouth,” she said. “So everybody here, we need each other. I need you.”
 
This year’s theme for the event, “building and sustaining survivor communities,” was chosen by the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (SACK). 
 
Brea Hutchinson, executive director of SACK, said this year’s rally is different from the last because sexual violence is further away today than it was a year ago. 
 
“Often times, we like to think of history as some kind of progression towards justice,” she said. “We’ve seen women’s rights under attack from coast to coast, and today, we’re doubling down on just not accepting. We’re pushing back.”
 
This year, the event didn’t have a sponsored charity, but other groups like Consensual Humans at Queen’s University, were present at the rally.
 
Maggie Whitmore (ArtSci, ’20), co-leader of Consensual Humans at Queen’s, said the event has grown each year. She added it’s important that people, especially university students, participate in Take Back the Night. 
 
“It’s extremely important to get the word out and talk about this,” she said.

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