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Virtual ‘Take Back The Night’ focuses on sexual assault survivors during COVID-19

The annual event is hosted by Norse Violence Prevention

April 16, 2020

A group of women dressed in black sheets armed with brooms marched across the University of Southern Florida’s campus in 1973. Just a few years prior in Belgium and England, women staged protests against how women couldn’t safely walk the streets alone. After a microbiologist was murdered near her home one night in 1975, Philadelphia citizens held a Take Back The Night Event in protest and solidarity. Since the 60s and 70s, Take Back The Night events, rallies and protests have been held by women across the globe to spread awareness about sexual violence. 

Since 2013, Norse Violence Prevention (NVP) has held their own “Take Back The Night.” With the changes across campus and the world due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s “Take Back The Night” has become a virtual event which may prove to be even more beneficial for survivors due to the ability to remain anonymous. Pre-registration is required. The event starts at 5 p.m. and registration ends at 4:45 p.m. Information for how to register can be found on the Eventbrite page or any of NVP’s social media pages. 

Junior public relations major and current NVP PR chair Sammi Murrell said “Take Back The Night” is an event for survivors of relationship violence and allies of survivors. 

Courtesy of Take Back The Night Foundation
A 1992 flyer for a Take Back The Night event.

“It’s an event for survivors to feel supported and know that there are people who believe them, and people who were there for them and want to hear what they have to say,” Murrell said. 

The event usually includes speakers, survivors sharing their stories and a walk across campus at the end. This year’s speakers include Soul Bird Consulting’s Founding Director and Trauma Responsive Care Trainer Sarah Buffie and Director of Equity Training Luna Malbroux. There will be breakout groups and an available counselor during the event. 

“Since it is online, we actually got two speakers who are going to talk more about how to be resilient in a time of social isolation,” Murrell said. “Especially for those who are having to deal with relationship violence.”

This year’s conversation focuses  on how to be a survivor during this time. Murrell said every time there’s a new challenge, it makes it more difficult for those experiencing relationship violence. The breakout groups throughout the presentation will foster conversations and create a safe space for survivors to feel more comfortable speaking. 

“The idea of sexual assault is brought up on our campus,” Murrell said. “But this is a real event for survivors to have a voice and to have a voice around people who they know are going to be understanding and who are there to listen and be a support system for them.” 

While the event is held to give survivors a safe space, it’s also important for allies to attend. Facts and figures don’t always show the gravity of interpersonal violence that people face, so hearing what support survivors need helps form better allyship. 

“I think that’s what’s hard sometimes is trying to say, ‘this is the support I need and this is why I need it like this.’ Having allies there to hear this conversation and hear what survivors have to say and what support they need is really impactful,” Murrell said. 

“Take Back The Night” began as an event to elevate women’s voices amid the sexual violence they have faced. Throughout the years, it’s grown into something much larger that has created a space for survivors of any sexual orientation or gender identity to share their stories. 

“Although interpersonal violence is focused a lot on women survivors, anyone is here for this conversation,” Murrell said. “NVP and “Take Back The Night” is open to everyone; we’ve supported all survivors, no matter what your gender identity is.” 


To register for “Take Back the Night,” visit


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