Take Back the Night attendees gather on Court St. to march and chant inspirational messages

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Athens community organizations and Ohio University departments collaborated on the annual Take Back the Night event at the Athena Cinema.

“Usually, it’s in April during Sexual Assault Awareness month, and the idea is for survivors and allies from sexual assault or intimate partner violence to come together and tell their stories, and listen and support one another,” said Chris Fowler, the director of the Ohio University Women’s Center.

The event has promoted awareness for victims of stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault for over 40 years. Kaitlyn Urbaniak, a full-time advocate on the Ohio University campus, said it’s a big impact when everyone comes together collectively.

“…how beneficial it is just to create that safe space and to hold that space for survivors,” Urbaniak said. “…and to really help contribute to, you know, not just being silent but standing up and being a part of that change.”

Advocates from the Survivor Advocacy Program were available to provide support for survivors at the event. Urbaniak was there specifically to help prepare survivors to speak.

The Athena Cinema marquee advertises Take Back the Night.
[Payton Szymczak | WOUB]
“I’ve worked with one of them, kind of behind the scenes in terms of preparing that speech,” Urbaniak said. “…and kind of just there to provide support in the moment.”

Visitors filled the auditorium to listen to inspirational speeches from committee members and motivational speakers. Urbaniak said that even if they are not the ones sharing their story that night, just knowing there are others there to listen is really nice for them.

“I think definitely after the event we hear a lot of positive feedback in terms of feeling more connected to the campus community and knowing that there’s others out there who have experienced something similar, that they’re not alone in that experience that they have,” Urbaniak said. “…and then just in general feeling super empowered.”

Senior Staff Counselor with Counseling and Psychological Services, Eileen Koch, emphasized the power of the speakers.

“I really think people are so brave and so courageous to tell their story and share it with others,” Koch said. “Because so often, survivors feel a sense of shame when they are not at all to be blamed for their trauma. However, they feel that, and it’s sometimes hard for them to come forward.”

After the speakers opened up about their stories, attendees gathered outside for a march around the block.

“It’s so powerful, and it’s literally taking back the night,” Koch said.

Attendees marched holding signs with inspirational messages. They chanted, “Yes means yes. No means no. Whatever we wear. Wherever we go.”

“It really is that symbolic. We are here, we are not going to be quiet, we’re not going to go away,” Koch said. “We really want to stop domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, any kind of violence.”

For more information on the Ohio University Survivor Advocacy Program, visit

For more information on the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program, visit