Mercer students combined efforts with the Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia to host a Take Back the Night (TBTN) march in downtown Macon on April 11.
Junior Emma Johnston, a women’s and gender studies major, helped organize the event as part of a special seminar class titled Fighting Violence Against Women.
“It’s basically a march that allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse to come together and share their stories with a safe community and raise their voices and raise awareness about those issues,” Johnston said.
According to the Take Back the Night Foundation’s website, TBTN marches date back to the 1960s, when women protested not being safe walking down the street alone in England and Belgium. The Foundation was officially established in 2001 and to this day seeks to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence.
The Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia’s mission statement, according to their website, is to provide community crisis intervention as well as safe shelter, comprehensive support and recovery services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Johnston said it is also their goal to educate the community about the cycle of violence and its prevention.
“Our event is put on by Crisis Line and Safe House, which is Macon and Middle Georgia’s shelter for the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and abuse. So what I was trying to do, and (what) the rest of the women’s and gender studies department at Mercer is trying to do, is unite the greater Middle Georgia community with Mercer’s community,” Johnston said.
The seminar course covered how some issues that TBTN advocates against on a national scale, such as sex trafficking and dating violence, affect Macon.
“It is a really huge issue in Macon-Bibb County that’s usually quieted a lot,” Johnston said. “I’m really happy that Mercer cares.”
Domestic violence fatalities in the state of Georgia increased from 2016 to 2017, according to data gathered by the Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project. In 2017, 13 of the 149 reported fatalities occurred in Middle Georgia, three of which were specifically in Macon-Bibb.
Johnston said that raising awareness is important for Macon and that Mercer students should join the conversation.
“We’re a part of the Macon community, and we shouldn’t be afraid to be an active voice in that community,” she said.