By JULIA CUNEO, Guest Writer 

On Oct. 16, women at University of Michigan-Dearborn are taking back the streets. We will be marching on campus to demonstrate that public spaces belong to us, that we are finished being abused, threatened, and scarred. We’ll be sharing our stories to demonstrate our support of each other and the love coming from our community.

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You may have seen a Daily Show skit recently by Jessica Williams. It addressed the rampant problem of cat calling facing women every time they leave their house. Jessica Williams has also done a fantastic sketch on the prevalence of rape on campuses and how women’s everyday lives are limited and distorted in order to avoid this violence.

In fact, maybe you’re sick of hearing about it. Maybe you think if we just stopped talking about it the problem would go away. If this is your reaction, I especially recommend you attend our event. That way you can experience the sheer force of how many women deal with sexual assault and domestic violence in their lifetime.

The statistic is 1 in 4 – so if you know 16 women you probably know at least 4 who have been sexually assaulted or abused.

And this isn’t some stranger-in-the-bushes phenomenon. Two thirds of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows – our partners, our family. We’ve had 3 such reported instances just since I’ve been at UM-Dearborn.

Of course, we all like to believe most men don’t rape. I like to believe that.

Unfortunately for us, a study done in Boston by David Lisak and Paul Miller  found that over 6% of men self-reported having sex with women who were unable to consent. Of these 120 men, 80% admitted to sex with women who were intoxicated. Over 17% had used threats or force to obtain sexual intercourse. Make no mistake: this is rape. This is violence. This violence leaves scars. These scars belong to women you know.

Men, I’m addressing you specifically now: You need to be at this event. You need to be an ally. Take Back the Night is specifically an event for women, an empowerment event to help us deal with this traumatic world I’ve just described. But we need you there – to learn, to join in, to add your voice to the call for an end to violence against women.

We’ll also be hosting a training on consent and how to be a strong ally. That will be the evening of November 12th. This is an opportunity to go beyond nodding in agreement and actively take part in stopping violence.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the discussion about women’s experiences with violence, I understand. Just imagine how overwhelming it is to live it.