Students and community members alike gathered at Anisq’Oyo Park on Tuesday, April 22, for a Take Back the Night rally and march.
The rally began with a quick introduction before singer-songwriter Emily Wryn took the stage with her guitar and her voice.
“Take Back the Night is such an important organization,” Wryn said. “The people who shared their stories and those who stayed and listened were an inspiration. I was happy that I could contribute in any way possible.”
After Wryn’s set, the microphone was open to anyone who had anything to share. Several people performed poems they had written about their experiences or of the experiences of people they knew.
Alycia Nichole, another artist who performed at the rally, took the stage next.
“With the music I am performing for you guys today, I hope to help you find courage,” Nichole said to the audience. “Even though it may be hard to find the beauty in something so horrific and so awful, there truly is.”
The rally continued with Angie Epifano, a survivor who works to raise awareness, sharing her story with the crowd.
“We should never think that it’s our fault,” Epifano said.
Epifano was a student at Amherst College in Massachusetts when she was assaulted. After a series of frustrating events in which no one believed her story, Epifano has decided to turn her anger into action by sharing her story and helping fellow survivors.
“I felt very inspired to action and to think about how this affects everyone and how it could be anyone,” said Afton Abell, a rally attendee. “You never know who it could have happened to. It’s caused me to sort of put this to the forefront of my mind.”
After Epifano retired the microphone, those in attendance gathered to carry candles and march in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault.
“Break the silence! End the violence!” could be heard from marchers as they walked from Anisq’ Oyo Park to Del Playa. As they returned to the park, they walked in silence out of respect to the survivors among them.
Upon returning to the park, everyone sat in a large circle in the grass for testimonials in a safe and confidential setting.
The rally additionally featured artwork by survivors, a t-shirt making area, a table set up by the Humyn Rights Board. The Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center also handed out backpacks at the close of the rally.
“People said that it was depressing, but I thought it was inspiring,” Abell said.
If you or someone you know has suffered from sexual assault, Take Back the Night can be found Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. in the EOP Conference Room 2228.
Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center 24-hour Hotline Number: (805) 564-3696