A 50-year-old mission against domestic and sexual violence involving women and children will inspire an area four-county event.
A rally in the tradition of Take Back the Night, an international effort designed to give the victims a voice and to establish safe communities through awareness and initiatives, will be held Saturday, April 29 at 6 p.m. at Four County Career Center, 22900 State Route 34, in Archbold. The event is a collaboration between the YWCA Hope Center of Northwest Ohio and the area Center for Child and Family Advocacy.
It will be the inaugural “Take Back” event for Fulton, Henry, Defiance, and Williams counties, inspired by the national movement but not a part of it. It is open to the public.
Activities will open with an hour-long resource and vendor fair, highlighting products available to women and women-owned businesses and agencies that service female victims of crime. They will include Mary Kay, Younique, Premier Jewelry, Royalty United, which serves homeless and low-income individuals in northwest Ohio, and Community Engagement Coalition, which promotes a proposed Ohio law for a violent offender registry.
At 7 p.m., a small rally will be held in the FCCC cafeteria to discuss violence against women in the four-county area and related stories taken from headlines. A survivor of women’s violence from Henry County will relate her story.
Thomas Goodwin and Emil Gravelle, northwest Ohio attorneys who service crime victims, also will attend.
Later, participants will conduct a 15-minute march on the school grounds carrying signs with empowering messages and statistics about domestic violence. They will then convene in an FCCC parking lot to hold a short candlelight vigil to honor fallen domestic violence victims in the community.
Keri Black, YWCA Hope Center program manager who also works at the Fulton County satellite office in Wauseon, said men, women, and children are welcome to attend. She cautioned, however, that children will be exposed to the sensitive nature of the discussions.
She said the annual “Take Back” event in Toledo usually attracts hundreds of people, “so we would like to have as many people as possible. I’m not sure why other agencies haven’t thought to bring it to the area. We finally got our foothold (here), and we thought this would enhance our presence.”
Black added, “It goes without saying there have been some recent, high-profile, very unfortunate cases that have highlighted our four-county area. There are advocates out here who hear you, that feel your hurt. We know this is in our communities, and we’re not going to tolerate it, and we’re going support our victims.”
In addition, a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Clinic was opened in Archbold last August at an undisclosed location donated by Bryan Health and Wellness CEO Phil Ennen. Funded through the Ohio attorney general’s office, it conducted 16 sexual assault exams for adults and children in the first three months of operation.
“That’s a big visual on how the community is responding to how victims’ needs are being met,” said Beth Gerken, executive director of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy. “Before that, victims were potentially waiting for hours for a nurse in an ER…and sometimes sent to Toledo or out of state to get a sexual assault exam.”
Six nurses are available to meet the victims’ needs within one hour, Gerken said. The clinic has the support of local law enforcement, hospitals, and a county prosecutor.
According to the “Take Back the Night” website, one in three women and one in six men worldwide experience sexual violence, although less than half report the crimes. The organization has been active in the U.S. since the 1960s.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.