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Dozens of people take a stand against sexual violence at Take Back the Night event

People from all over came together at the University of Toledo to take a stand against sexual assault. The event helps bring awareness to the underreported crime.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Take Back the Night is an international movement that takes a stand against sexual and intimate partner violence. On Saturday, the movement came to Toledo.

Dozens of people 'took back the night' at the University of Toledo to show support, to show solidarity and to make a change.

'Keep violence away - Rape does not define you - No more.' Those were some of the messages of sexual and domestic violence survivors, as well as their allies, who took part in the event. 

It's an issue the YWCA's Rachael Gardner said doesn't get enough attention. 

"[It's] a very, very under-reported crime, but a very prevalent crime in our community," said Gardner.

Take Back the Night Foundation says less than 50% of victims report this type of crime.

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Gardner explained that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual or intimate partner violence.

Participant Lauren Howard says she 'took back the night' because society needs to change the way women are seen. 

"I think it's important to fight back against the narrative that in order for women and people who identify as women to be safe, you have to make yourself smaller or kind of hide away," said Howard. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. 

Gardner says it's a good reminder to step forward and represent survivors. Let them know they have a safe space in the community. 

RELATED: Ohio sees increase in reports of sexual assault among minors

"There are people who are around who have been through similar situations that are available to be supportive on a healing journey, too," she said. "Supports are available. It's something that's happening in our community, but we're stronger together, so we're here."

While Take Back the Night only happens once a year, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) says sexual violence occurs every 68 seconds. 

Howard said knowing the facts and educating others will help make a change. 

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault or intimate partner violence, there are several resources available. 

You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.


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