Winnipeggers say no to sexual violence, rally for Take Back the Night
Organizers say it is important survivors know they are believed
Dozens of people rallied at the University of Winnipeg to say no to sexual violence Thursday night for the annual Take Back the Night march.
People gave speeches and talked about sexual trauma, rape and patriarchy and how it impacts women and non-binary people.
Organizers said they also wanted to send a clear message to survivors — we believe you.
"We are intentionally choosing to flip the script that is systemically perpetuated by the legal system by social systems that basically tell survivors that the onus of responsibility of proving their trauma is real or is on them," said organizer Em Moon.
The rally Thursday comes as people around the world continue to post "me too" on social media to indicate they have been sexually harassed or assaulted.
The online campaign gained traction in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood — actress Alyssa Milano asked women to post the phrase if they've experienced sexual assault or harassment.
Cards that said consent is mandatory were handed out at the university while women held signs asking for respect, not abuse.
"Tonight is really important because sometimes we just need to speak up about what we're passionate about, and if it means we have to march in the streets ... then we got to go for it until this is not an issue anymore," said Ashlyn La Liberty, a peer educator at the University of Winnipeg who came out to the rally.
For Alexa Potashnik, Take Back the Night was about drawing attention to an issue which is far too common.
"To be a woman in this society you're going to deal with trauma and assault," she said.
Megan Linton was part of the organizing committee for the rally and short march that followed. She said she wants to see perceptions about sexual perpetuators change.
"It's often talked about like the stranger in the back alley but it's often a friend or a coworker, and so we need to keep making people aware of that, and that it's not just people we don't know."