Take Back the Night April 13

The annual event, including candlelight vigil, is a pro-active way to speak out against sexual violence.


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Apr. 7, 2011) University of South Florida students, faculty, staff and community members committed to supporting survivors of sexual violence are joining forces next week for the fifth annual Take Back the Night event.


“A show of support sends a powerful message to those who’ve been victimized but also the victimizers, we want sexual violence to end, here and everywhere it happens in the world,” said Eileen Dabrowski, advocate/educator in the USF Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention and student affairs liaison to Necessary Improvements to Transform our Environment (NITE).


Dabrowski will be joined by four-time Pro-Bowler and Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon and hundreds of others at 6:30 p.m. Apr. 13 as the University of South Florida hosts the candlelight vigil, silent march and speak-out against sexual violence. 


People will meet at the Marshall Student Center Amphitheater – rain or shine.


“This event has grown dramatically each year and I am just amazed at how wonderful everyone is,” said Dabrowski, who is NITE’s former president.  “Can you believe Lee Roy Selmon thanked us for asking him to speak at our event?  He really gets the importance of the work we are doing; he is a perfect example of a REAL man.  And we’re so fortunate to have Nikki Daniels speaking.  She’s one of the driving forces that have made the Family Justice Center as wonderful as it is.  Plus, every day people contact us and ask how they can help, it brings tears to my eyes.”


Sexual violence statistics are alarming and affect both women and men. It is reported that one in four women and one in 33 men suffer this form of brutality. 


“We are part of an international movement which has chosen events like this to make this statement,” Dabrowski said. “By speaking out and revealing the truth about sexual violence, we are taking an active role in helping to prevent it. I want to see everyone who cares about victims of these crimes get involved and stay involved.”


Daniels, director of the Hillsborough County Family Justice Center will deliver the keynote address. Then, while sexual violence statistics are read aloud, attendees will walk throughout the heart of the Tampa campus.  The men among the attendees will be asked to read aloud and take the REAL (Relationship Equality and Anti-violence League) Men’s Promise to End Sexual and Relationship Violence, led by Selmon. A survivor speak-out and candlelight vigil honoring all victims of sexual violence will follow.  The evening concludes with a reception and celebration of life led by USF Dean for Students Kevin Banks.


“What we hope to accomplish with the men in particular is to encourage them to intervene to prevent sexual attacks, not just be uninvolved bystanders who just look the other away,” Dabrowski said.  “The culture that supports and encourages rape can end if men join together to end it and to check their friends’ and their own behaviors.”


Sponsors for this educational and empowering event are NITE, the USF Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention and REAL.  NITE is a student organization that advocates for campus safety and student wellness.

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.