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Those supporting survivors of domestic abuse say individuals often live in silence, with others unaware that abuse is taking place.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is partnering with Reach Counseling and Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services to host the 30th annual Take Back the Night. The series of events Oct. 26-30 is intended to bring awareness to domestic and sexual violence happening in the community, celebrate survivors and honor lives lost.

“We exist in this community to support those who need us the most and feel that they have nowhere else to turn,” said Alicia Gehrig, communications and partnership specialist for Christine Ann.

She noted that the agency last year served 288 people at the shelter, 636 individuals on an outreach basis and 147 youth with an advocate.

“That’s 1,071 individuals who received our assistance with emotional support, basic needs, emergency shelter, connection to community resources and legal support—all completely free to them.”

This year, due to COVID-19, the event is being hosted as Take Back the Week (Oct. 26-30), with a series of virtual events/activities hosted on the Fox Valley Take Back the Night Facebook page.

COVID-19 impact

Gehrig said it was anticipated that calls for support would decrease when the safer at home order was in place—the individuals were co-quarantined and under the watch of their abuser.

“We anticipated that when the safer at home order lifted (May 26), we would see an increase of individuals seeking our safety and support services and that’s exactly what has happened,” Gehrig said.

Domestic abuse impacts people regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, disability, race, marital status or education level.

Gehrig said there are many different tactics of power and control used in an abusive relationship and it can happen between intimate partners, roommates, a caregiver an individual being cared for, or even a parent and child.

Abuse can be emotional, psychological, technological, verbal, physical, economic or with intimidation and threats or isolation.

Alicia Johnson

Campus support

Alicia Johnson, UWO Women’s Center director and Women’s and Gender Studies lecturer, said Take Back the Night provides an opportunity for the UWO campus to join in solidarity with the community and support victims/survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

“This year we are centering the intersection of sexual and domestic violence and racial violence,” Johnson said of the week-long series of events.

Of note this year, is a fundraiser established with the goal of collecting $3,000 in donations.

To that end, University Books & More donated 250 masks that say “Stop the Violence” to be provided to people who donate $10 or more toward the $3,000 goal.

Johnson said the purple in the mask represents domestic violence, the black is for Black Lives Matter, and the teal represents sexual violence.

Christine Ann is a non-profit organization and relies heavily on community donations to provide support services. Donations may be made online or by calling (920) 235-5998.

Take Back the Week

All videos and messages will be posted on the Fox Valley Take Back the Night Facebook page. (A Facebook account is not needed to access the content.)

The week is devoted to prevention and support with the following themes:

  • Monday, Oct. 26: Educating the Community
  • Tuesday, Oct. 27: Our Community Cares
  • Wednesday, Oct. 28: Surviving and Thriving
  • Thursday, Oct. 29: Keynote Speaker Shiquita Yarbrough, manager of community engagement and equity at YMCA Boulder County, Colorado (Live at 6 p.m. and available later on Fox Valley TBTN Facebook page.)
  • Friday, Oct. 30: Take Action to Prevent Violence

Never Silent Exhibit includes collaborative works by artist Michael Wartgow reflecting on the experiences of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The exhibit is on display Oct. 7-Nov. 6 at Reeve Union’s Steinhilber Art Gallery (third floor). See full schedule for times.

Learn more: