Take Back the Night/ Walk a Mile
In a quiet room on one side of campus, a girl gets up to the stand and clears her throat. She speaks, hesitantly at first, but with more and more confidence with each passing syllable. Confident not only in the legitimacy of her suffering, but in the need for it to be shared.
On the other side of campus, a guy shoves his foot into some pink pumps. He tries putting his weight on them, wondering if his toe’s really supposed to fold over the other ones like that.
Back in DPC, the girl keeps on speaking, telling a story. Not the story of those who abused her, who violated her, who dehumanized her. She tells the story of her. Her pain, her struggles, her defiance, her story. One by one, other girls follow, telling their own stories, lighting candles, feeling truly safe, secure, and free to open up and share themselves and their pain all at once for what could be the first time in a long while.
The guy joins a bunch of similar people in the “Walk a Mile” event on St. Mary’s Campus. He, along with many others, will walk around campus in women’s shoes, perhaps taking the sagely advice of Atticus Finch a tad too literally. He walks not just to raise awareness for the struggles of college women, but to become more aware himself.
Back in the quiet room, “Take Back the Night” grows in its chorus of girls who’ve been beaten, perhaps even broken, but refuse to surrender. As the stories grow more and more intense, more raw, more real, the tears of even the most stoic ones in the room begin to fall. Later, they’ll take their candles and walk around the campus under a pitch-black sky. Many will look on, and ask what’s going on. What they’ll see is a group of women united in solidarity, striving to challenge and reclaim the night that has so hurt them in the past.
Throughout so many of their stories, the only thing I could think of was how I would’ve given up. How I would’ve let the night crush me, swallow me into its long great dark. But when I see these women walking with their candles, sharing their stories, I see nothing but strength. Awesome, inspiring strength. If there’s one thing I hope Take Back the Night has achieved, it’s that people have seen this strength, and will be inspired to take some for themselves. I know I’ve been inspired to. Perhaps next year we’ll hear more stories, see more candles. And the night will get that much brighter.