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Students climb the Scripps Amphitheater steps with candles and signs during the "Take Back the Night" march. Participants in the Thursday-night march sought to raise awareness about the problem of sexual crimes on campuses. (Sam Owens | Staff Photographer)

Take Back the Night sheds light on campus sex crimes

Many women across the country avoid walking the streets after hours for fear of sexual assault and violence. So Thursday night, about 100 women in Athens took to the streets to “reclaim the night”

“Take Back the Night” is an annual march — in its 33rd year at Ohio University — that takes place in cities all across the United States.

Ohio University Student Senate’s women’s commission, along with the Survivor Advocacy Program and several other campus organizations, hosted the march and rally Thursday night.

The event began with the all-female a cappella groups, Title IX and The Tempo Tantrums, singing recent songs such as “Beautiful” and “Rolling in the Deep.”

In between the group’s songs, Susanne Dietzel, director of the Women’s Center, gave an opening speech explaining the rally’s purpose.

“I want to talk about how important it is for women to ‘Take Back the Night,’ both literally and metaphorically, from the injustices that have been brought against them,” Dietzel said.

Kelly Addington and Becca Tieder, both educators and “soul sisters” who decided to become speakers on sexual assault following Addington’s sexual assault, also spoke.

The pair now speaks to others about the realities of sexual crimes and founded a program called “Let’s Talk About IT,” which assists survivors of sexual assault, their loved ones and the community about stopping these crimes.

The duo also touched on sexual empowerment and not shaming consensual sex, a theme reflected in the “I love consensual sex” buttons passed through the hands of those gathered.

“When I say ‘IT,’ what you think of?” Tieder asked. “We need to be more comfortable with our sexualities and not see sex as a shameful thing.”

Addington described her sexual assault and subsequent pregnancy and miscarriage, followed by an explanation of the proper steps and appropriate language “second-hand survivors” should use.

“I heard the word victim so many times following my assault,” Addington said. “I’m not dead; I’m a survivor, not a victim.”

After the rally, women lit candles for all those affected by sexual assault and rape and began their march down Court Street, carrying signs reading “Respect Womyn” and chanting “Women unite, take back the night.”

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