Las Vegas Sun

February 27, 2024

Survivors of abuse and violence march to ‘Take Back the Night’

Take Back the Night 2011

Steve Marcus

Participants march during the annual “Take Back the Night” event on UNLV campus Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. UNLV students and a host of campus and community organizations will gathered to raise awareness about the growing problem of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Take Back the Night 2011

Marchers pass by a luminary with a message during the annual Launch slideshow »

Sexual and domestic violence survivors and their supporters all marched Thursday night along Maryland Parkway brandishing posters and cheering whenever cars honked.

Among them was Monique Rivera, 29, who marched in memory of her dead 3-year-old son.

During UNLV’s 18th annual Take Back the Night event Rivera and family members wore White T-shirts with her son, Adrian Garcia’s name printed across the chest.

The international event is held to promote awareness against issues such as sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and violence against children.

Garcia was a victim of domestic violence, Rivera said. The toddler died in May of a head injury while under the care of Rivera’s ex-boyfriend.

“There’s a lot of signs that we ignore,” she said. “Like when a man is trying to be too controlling.”

Rivera found out about Take Back the Night though Safe Nest, a nonprofit that offers shelter for victims of domestic violence.

Before the death of her son, Rivera, said she didn’t know about organizations like Safe Nest.

“I didn’t even know protection orders existed,” she said.

Offering a chance for survivors to speak, bringing awareness to the issues and highlighting available resources are just a few components to the evening event sponsored by UNLV’s Jean Nidetch Women’s Center.

Many of the marchers are supporters of rape victims, said Crystal Jackson, graduate assistant with the Woman’s Center.

“Everybody is here because they know somebody even if you aren’t a direct victim,” she said.

Organizations from across the campus and city took different roles in supporting the cause. A resource fair held throughout the day featured a tunnel display of rape and domestic violence literature.

Lining the inside of the display were posters in the shape of human bodies covered with anti-violence quotes.

“I have ownership of my body,” reads one cutout.

“Just because she wants to kiss does not mean she wants to have sex,” reads another.

Whether written on a display or voiced by members of the crowd chanting during a spirited march, the message against violence was apparent.

“No body knows the situation I was in,” Rivera said. “I didn’t want to believe what was really happening. I was scared of him.”

Events like this shed light on all types of violence, said student Karla Washington, an organizer with Peers Advocating Anti-Violence Education, P.A.A.V.E.

“We’re here to empower, we’re here to support. We’re also here to honor those who are not here,” Washington said.

For Rivera, Take Back the Night offered a chance to honor her son and inform others of her tragedy.

“If you’re in a situation like that get out,” she said. “It was too late for my son.”

The event also included the launch of the university’s new 24-hour hotline called UNLV CARE Line, that provides information and support concerning sexual assault, relationship violence or stalking. Those looking for assistance can call 895-0602.

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