Despite the rainy weather last Thursday, the mood inside McCormick Lounge was anything but dampered. “Take Back the Night,” presented by the University of Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women, sought to spread awareness of sexual and domestic violence and to provide a safe and empowering environment for people to share their own experience with abuse. In her welcoming address, Tara Bryant Edwards, a representative from Rape Victim Advocates, suggested that an immediate goal society needs to tackle is a redefining of its images of victims and predators and of what it means to be abused.
A major focus of the event was L.Y. Marlow’s new book, Color Me Butterfly, the story of four generations of women in her family struggling with domestic abuse. Marlow, an acclaimed author and a survivor of domestic violence, spoke of the contagious nature of domestic abuse and its intergenerational effects, citing her own life and the abusive relationship she entered into at the age of 16. At the heart of Marlow’s claim was her conviction that society should acknowledge the true scope of sexual violence and confront it head on through the joint efforts of local and national awareness groups.
Following Marlow’s speech, nine students from North Lawndale College Prep performed original slam poetry in a compilation entitled “Take Back the Halls,” a presentation designed to empower other students to speak out and become active in stopping sexual violence. The students spoke vividly of racial issues, abusive relationships, violence, and their desire to find peace and acceptance. Afterward, the crowd, on its feet since the start of the poetry performance, set out on a silent, candlelit march to Nichols Park for a vigil to remember victims of sexual and domestic violence.