Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
*Content Warning: This article contains subjects related to sexual assault and domestic violence.*
Take Back the Night, an organization that serves to to put an end to sexual assault, domestic and sexual violence through awareness events and initiatives, will be returning to downtown St. Catharines after two years of online events.
Take Back the Night has been hosted by the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre for over 40 years, and to celebrate the return of in-person activities, the theme for the evening is called “Community, we’re still here.” This theme is a response to the victims of violence during COVID-19 lockdowns, letting individuals know that services will continue to be provided for those in need, even during times with stronger restrictions due to the pandemic.
“We felt it was important to remind the community about the many agencies that are available to help in times of crisis,” said Donna Christie, Public Education Coordinator for the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre in a press release provided to The Brock Press.
Such a reminder comes at a good time, as a rise in crisis calls and requests has been seen during the two years since the lockdowns began. A Statistics Canada Survey in April detected that one in 10 women in Canada are very concerned about the possibility of domestic violence. Meanwhile, in June 2020 the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality Canada noted that in some regions, calls to domestic violence services went up by 20 or 30 per cent, with calls in some shelters increasing as high as 400 per cent.
The COVID-19 pandemic, coinciding with a rise of domestic abuse cases, has caused limited spaces in shelters, and a decline in response cases. By placing focus on the theme of “Community, we’re still here,” Take Back the Night is able to reassert their purposes after the challenges faced from the pandemic.
The Niagara Sexual Assault Centre, which hosts the event annually, saw their own share of challenges during the pandemic. “It was such a difficult time for many people who were unable to meet with service providers in-person,” said Christie.
The non-profit organization was established by five women in 1977, designed as a resource centre for victims of sexual assault. Today, the centre aids survivors of sexual violence through the spreading of awareness of such issues, while also providing counselling, support, and emergency services for those in need.
The Niagara Sexual Assault Centre will be hosting the long awaited event on Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Market Square building located in downtown St. Catharines. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m, with a variety of speakers, such as Victim Services, Gillian’s Place, Positive Living, and the DSBN beginning at 7 p.m. Additionally, opening remarks will be delivered by the city’s Mayor, Walter Sendzik, as well as live music to be performed by Leanne Vida and her band. The night will conclude with its notable candlelight walk. The event is available for anyone to attend.
For more information on the Take Back the Night event and the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre, as well as information on getting involved in both organizations, visit their websites