Sexual assault survivors rally in Ogden to ‘Take Back the Night’

OGDEN, Utah – A group of women in Ogden rallied and marched down 25th Street Friday evening, sending a message to the community about a topic that some of them have never been able to publicly talk about before.

Many of the women who walked with signs and chanted have experienced the trauma of sexual assault or relationship violence and now, they are speaking out.

"However we dress, where ever we go. 'Yes' means 'yes,' and 'no' means 'no!'" the group repeated in unison on the sidewalk, as part of the annual Take Back the Night rally.

Onlookers watched, and people inside of stores and restaurants came out to see the commotion.

"We have the power! We have the right! The streets are ours. Take back the night!" the women shouted.

Jenna Nelson's sign read, "No more silence."

"Because I was silenced for over 20 years," she said. She said she was victimized as a teenager and wasn't allowed to speak up. Four years ago, she reported what happened to her.

Now, Nelson's going even further by sharing her story in hopes of preventing others from enduring the same pain.

"Stop the violence! Stop the violence!" she chanted, along with everyone else.

"It's so great to walk up and down these streets and shout as loud as I can," Nelson said. "That this has got to stop. No more victims."

Nelson said she used to feel isolated and alone when dealing with what happened. At the rally, she found fellowship with others who knew exactly what she'd been through.

"To see so many people come together, having the same bond – it empowers you and it strengthens you," she said.

The Weber State University Women's Center hosted the Take Back the Night rally, which included a keynote speaker, march and survivor speak-out.

At the speak-out, survivors got to share their experiences through essays, poems and music. Paige Davies, director of the Weber State University Women's Center, said they want to bring light to sexual assault and abuse, as well as domestic violence and the emotional harm that comes with it.

One in three women in Utah experiences domestic violence, Davies said.

She said it's not often survivors have the opportunity to meet each other, and they often feel alone in what happened to them.

At Take Back the Night, she said they get to see people who have endured and moved beyond their trauma to, "survive and thrive."

That's what Nelson is doing now.

"I'm feeling strong. I'm feeling proud," she said, adding, "And I'm very thankful that I was invited to this event and to take part in this."

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition runs a 24/7 hotline to offer confidential support and resources at 1-800-897-LINK.

Click here for a look at resources on the UDVC website.

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