Taking a stand against domestic and sexual abuse

The Take Back the Night rally and Clothesline Project take place virtually this semester

Screenshot from Take Back the Night Rally video.

As has been the case with many events this semester, the Clothesline Project and the Take Back the Night rally took place virtually this week. Spearheaded by the Community Violence Intervention Center at the University of North Dakota, both events aim to raise awareness of domestic and sexual violence.

This year, the Take Back the Night rally, which in a typical fall would take participants on a march through campus, featured instead a 30-minute long video program hosted by Izaiah Reynolds, who studied marketing at UND, and Blue Weber, executive director of the Downtown Development Association.

“For me, it really all clicked the first time I went to a Take Back the Night rally and a Clothesline Project,” said Reynolds, who has assisted in the organization of these events for three years now. “I had dealt with that in my own past. I wanted to not only be able to share this information. I wanted to know how to actively help prevent those things from happening.”

In 2018, crisis intervention centers in North Dakota received more than 6,000 reports of domestic violence, data compiled by CAWS North Dakota shows. According to the North Dakota Attorney General’s office, 12 homicides were the result of domestic violence in 2018.

Moreover, from 1999 to 2018, 76 percent of female homicide victims were killed in domestic abuse incidents, while 31 percent of male victims were.

“We are all here virtually to make a stand against the culture of violence on our campus and in our community,” said Lindsay Winkelman, a UND student and 2020 Dru Sjodin Memorial Scholarship recipient.

“Being part of Take Back the Night brings all us closer to achieving our goal of making our home a safer place. Sexual assault is a human problem, and it requires human solutions to make a change.”

And solutions start with profound yet seemingly simple actions such as sharing painful personal tales, organizers suggest. This is what Yvonne Griffin does in her book, “In the Hands of an Abuser.” In the mid-2000s, Griffin studied business administration and management at UND, where she met a man who abused her. Her predicaments, nonetheless, started when she was only a kid, thrown in the child foster system with her sister.

“Each family was temporary with hopes of reunification with my family,” Griffin writes on the back cover of her book. “I was subjected to worse situations in these homes that were supposed to be a place of providing me with my needs and safety. I suffered physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. I was pulled from homes as things happened, but punishment was never given to those who assaulted me.”

Griffin recounted her story in the Take Back the Night video, saying that CVIC helped her “find my life back.”

Complementing the mission of the Take Back the Night rally, the Clothesline Project is a collection of T-shirts, stenciled with heart-wrenching pleas and stories from violence survivors. Due to the pandemic, this fall’s Clothesline Project consists of a 6-minute video that displays T-shirts and statistics about domestic and sexual abuse.

Both the Clothesline Project and the Take Back the Night rally videos are available on CVIC’s website.