Sometimes, you just have to brag. We at STAR are doing amazing things, and we want to share our progress and positive experiences with you.
Take Back the Night
Beginning in the early 1970s, Take Back the Night has served as an awareness event, held across many different communities and countries, to focus on various forms of interpersonal violence. LSU Women’s Center and LSU Health Center hosted Baton Rouge’s 29th annual Take Back the Night event on Sunday, October 11. The event included a candlelight vigil to honor the lives lost to domestic and sexual violence, as well as a march to empower the community to take action.
STAR joined more than 30 partnering organizations to offer information about our services to the community and to encourage the social change necessary to end oppression and violence throughout our city.
Call to Action
During the program, our Vice President of Social Change, Rebecca Marchiafava, gave an official Call to Action speech to motivate our community to unite, mobilize, and create change. Here are her words:
Tonight we are here to acknowledge victims and survivors of forms of violence that have, for too long, been too normal and too silenced in our communities. And something that I have learned in my life and my work so far is that the most effective way to ensure violence will continue is to regard it as normal. When we view something as normal, we are saying that it is an inevitable, unavoidable fact of life. That nothing we do will change the current reality.
But we are all here because we don’t buy that. And to begin—or continue—taking action, we must always remember that sexual and intimate partner violence are not inevitable.
It is possible to make sexual harm a relic of the past. It is possible to eradicate intimate partner violence.
When working with survivors, we know to start by believing. Just the same, when working for social change to end sexual and intimate partner violence, we must start by believing as well. We must start by believing that positive change is possible. Only then can we take action to create the change that all of us so desire and desperately need.
Tonight, it is time to march and shout. It is time to make noise. It is time to disrupt disruptive violence, to make a scene about too many crime scenes, to object to objectifying violence, to take power back from those who wield deadly and traumatizing tactics of power and control.
And tomorrow? It will still be time for action. What kind of action? If we’re going act, we need to make an impact. We need to act strategically, effectively, and meaningfully to create change.
Reading is action.
Researching is action.
Sharing resources and information is action.
Posting on social media about these issues is action.
Posting comments on news articles is action.
Sending a letter to the editor is action.
Connecting with relevant local organizations is action.
Volunteering and donating is action.
Listening to survivors’ stories is action.
Sharing our stories is action.
Supporting survivors and their right to vulnerability is action.
Holding offenders accountable for committing violence is action.
Talk is action.
Asking questions is action.
Facilitating and attending meetings, and sending meeting notes, is action.
Attending community trainings and workshops is action.
Empathizing is action.
Learning from the experiences and perspectives of those who differ from us is action.
Knowing and doing better than we did yesterday is action.
Knowing and showing that “love is respect” is action.
Becoming informed about trauma and oppression is action.
Committing to trauma-informed practice is action.
Recognizing and challenging warning signs of violence is action.
Refusing to rationalize and justify violence is action.
Seeking to understand is action.
Embracing complexity is action.
Being inclusive is action.
Recognizing the connections between all forms of violence is action.
Care and self-care is action.
Exercise is action.
Spending time with loved ones is action.
Taking a break and getting rest is action.
Promoting the positive is action.
Being visionary is action.
Talking consistently with the children in our lives to reduce their risk of being perpetrators is action.
Allowing the men and boys in our lives to be authentic and vulnerable human beings is action.
Advocating and lobbying is action.
Investing in and implementing evidence-informed solutions is action.
Demanding institutional and political change is action.
Using institutional and political power to create positive change is action.
Making healthy relationships the norm is action.
Making healthy sexuality the norm is action.
So tonight, we are taking action together. We are strengthening connections that already exist and forming new connections. Tomorrow, let us follow up with a phone call or email. Let us build on decades of action and activism. Let us appreciate our momentum and recognize that there has been no greater time to continue in this work. Let us learn from our elders and mentor the up-and-coming generation. Let us recognize how far we have come and use it to motivate us to do the work that is required to replace violence, fear and intimidation with respect for boundaries and each other’s humanity, and with healthy, positive connections with one another.
Let us take action tonight and let it lead to taking action tomorrow. Thank you.
Our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones to domestic, sexual, and intimate partner violence. We are devoted to support survivors to best of our abilities, and we will continue to advocate for supportive systems response. We ask you to consciously implement social change in your everyday lives and to encourage those around you to do the same. We know that together, we are more than capable to make a positive, substantial impact in our community.