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  • Writer's pictureREBECCA OSOWSKI

Take Back the Night: Awareness, empathy, empowerment


(L-R) Title IX Intern Emily Goad, Becca Van Spall-Hood (‘19), Director of Compliance and Title IX/Section 504 Coordinator Maryrose Anthes, and Section 504 Intern Gaelle Nelfise planned and executed the annual Take Back the Night Event on Nov 18. Photo courtesy of Gaelle Nelfise

On Nov. 18, students, faculty, and alumni gathered in de Witt Hall for Take Back the Night (TBTN). The event was planned and organized by the Title IX and Section 504 Office along with students in Professor Karin Raye’s Directed Study to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence.


The event featured four survivor speakers that shared their stories. According to Maryrose Anthes, Director of Compliance and Title IX/Section 504 Coordinator, around 250 people attended the event.


The goal of the event, according to Anthes is to create more awareness of sexual and domestic violence. Anthes and those that helped in planning wanted to “[create] a safe space for survivors to share their lived experiences and be heard and supported by their community,” she said. “We work hard to ensure that the event is part of each survivor speaker’s personal healing journey.”


Emily Goad, the Title IX Intern, praised the community for coming together and welcoming the discomfort that comes with discussing difficult topics. “The Lasell community has done an admirable job of creating an environment where we can support survivors by allowing them to be seen and heard at TBTN,” Goad said. “These issues are not easy to hear or talk about, so kudos to everyone for leaning into that discomfort in order to learn about the issue of interpersonal violence.”


In addition to the survivor speakers, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence was present during and after the event to provide counseling and a safe space for survivors and attendees if needed. Self-care exercises were also led by current students and alums throughout the night.


Michael Woo, Student Government Association President, was involved in the event and one of the students that led a self-care exercise. Woo said each year he attends the event, he is “filled with so much gratitude for our survivor speakers who share their very real experiences of domestic, sexual, and intimate partner violence.”


The event also featured an open mic portion where members of the audience were able to share their words of support or their own personal stories.


“We’re so grateful to have an empathetic and engaged community at Lasell that is willing to connect to listen to hard truths and support each other,” Anthes said about the attendance and audience member’s participation.


Gaelle Nelfise, the Section 504 Intern agreed. “I’m grateful for this set precedent and norm and excited for the future of TBTN here at Lasell,” Nelfise said.


Anthes hopes this sense of support continues past the walls of de Witt Hall and students that have been impacted by domestic, sexual, or interpersonal violence know the resources that are available to them both on campus and off campus.


Woo echoed Anthes, adding “I hope that everyone who attended are inspired as caretakers of our community to be active bystanders and prevent sexual assaults from occurring, because it can happen to anyone.”


Those that may be looking to report an incident on campus or seeking more information on the university’s response to a report can reach out to Anthes at 617-243- 2270. There are also confidential resources available on campus, including the Counseling Center located at Mott House or Health Services.


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