‘Take Back the Night’ aims to shatter silence on sexual violence

Published On: Apr 25 2013 07:10:00 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 25 2013 07:24:01 PM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

One in four college women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape before they get their diploma.

That's according to the U.S. Department of Justice in a report that also shows rape is the most common violent crime on college campuses.

Thursday was the final day for University of Wisconsin–La Crosse senior Genia Castro to get the word out about a march she’s organizing in protest of sexual violence.

Friday night’s event is part of an international movement, but each "Take Back the Night" rally is tailored to the individual community hosting it.

Castro has been organizing guest speakers, a candlelight vigil and a march through the city for the La Crosse event.

"Sexual violence is kind of a trendy topic, unfortunately. When there's an attack in a community, that's when people get outraged and they talk about it. But then it falls to the wayside and everybody thinks that it's not happening, but we know that's not true," said Castro.

Tammy Aspeslet knows that first-hand.

As Gundersen Lutheran's Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, coordinator, Aspeslet said more than 100 rape victims sought medical treatment at the hospital last year.

"We will do the exam, take care of you, make sure that you have a safe place. We don't make you report it and it's confidential. We can't talk to the police or anybody else without you saying that we can, unless a weapon was used," said Aspeslet.

Part of Friday's Take Back the Night march will be through downtown La Crosse, but statistics show women should be less worried about a stranger attacking them on the street, and more worried about the person who's walking them home.

"Does that happen, that you walk down the alley and you can get assaulted? Yes, absolutely. It has happened in La Crosse. But it's not just the person that's a stranger that jumps out at you in the night. It might be the person that's next to you, or that's working with you, or it's a friend of a friend," said Aspeslet.

Castro said Take Back the Night is about putting the blame where it belongs -- on the rapist.

"To me, rape culture means that we blame the victims. And we say it's OK for men to not be able to control their bodies. And we blame victims for what she was wearing, how much she had had to drink," said Castro.

One of the speakers at tomorrow night's event will talk about the role of men in ending sexual violence. Castro said many people tend to see sexual violence as a women's issue, but it's important that men speak out against rape and learn actively seek consent from their partners.

The event starts at 7 p.m. Friday with speakers at 1309 Centennial Hall on UW-L's campus. At 8 p.m. there will be a march through downtown starting at the corner of 16th Street North and Vine Street, and ending at the band shell in Riverside Park. That's where the survivor speak-out and candlelight vigil will take place starting at 9 p.m. Check out the event on Facebook for more information.