SOS is partnering with Emporia State University’s THRIVE (The Healthy Relationship and Interpersonal Violence Education program) and Counseling Services from ESU’s Wellness Center to bring Curt and Christie Brungardt from Jana’s Campaign for Take Back the Night. ESU alumnus Emily Steimel-Handy will also speak, and the event will be followed by a march led around campus by SOS and THRIVE. This is a free event and is open to the public.
Take Back the Night is April 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, starting in Albert Taylor Hall on the ESU campus. Curt and Christie Brungardt from Jana’s Campaign will start the evening. Jana’s Campaign was created by the Brungardts after their daughter, Jana, was murdered in an act of domestic violence in 2008. Jana was a KU student and 25 years old when she died. Since then, Curt and Christie have devoted their lives to educating and bringing awareness to domestic violence. They want it to be known that this can happen to anybody – no one is immune. Jana was an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Jana’s campaign works with colleges and university to provide training opportunities and resources to improve prevention and response efforts to sexual violence, partner violence, and stalking on campus. The Brungardts plan to speak about their story and advocacy, gender/LGBTQIA+ and relationship violence prevention, responses to sexual violence and stalking, healthy relationships, and more.
Following Jana’s Campaign, Emily Steimel-Handy will speak. Steimel-Handy is an ESU graduate who will share about the impact that the trauma of sexual assault has, what we can ALL do to prevent sexual assault and support survivors, especially ESU students, and connect her experience to the passion for the work she does.
Through the event and speakers, SOS, THRIVE, and ESU’s Counseling Services hope to make a large impact, sparking a passion for advocacy among students and the community. After the speakers, SOS and THRIVE will lead a march around campus, which has been a tradition for Take Back the Night at ESU. After the march, a speak out by victims will be hosted with an open dialogue format for healing and advocacy.
The first Take Back the Night was held in England in 1977, and the US joined the movement in 1978 in San Francisco. These marches began as a protest against the violence individuals are subjected to on a nightly basis, and have evolved into a night of sharing, healing, empowerment, and education.
Take Back the Night is part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) which calls attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and impacts every person in the community. Sexual Assault Awareness Month aims to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities about how to prevent it. The CDC reports that over half of women and almost 1 in 3 men have experienced sexual violence during their
lifetimes According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in 2021 there were 1,197 incidents of rape reported in Kansas, averaging one rape reported every 7 Hours, 19 Minutes, 6 Seconds. Sadly, this crime often goes unreported for many reasons. Often victims are scared they will not be believed, or they might be harassed and blamed for their assault if they come forward.
It is important that our communities not be silent and turn our backs on victims, and Take Back the Night events work to promote a world without fear of sexual violence. Please join SOS, THRIVE, and ESU Counseling Services for a night of shared stories, education, and an opportunity to learn more about resources available for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as opportunities to consider how individuals might become advocates for survivors in their own communities. SOS staff will be available to answer questions at the event.
If someone tells you they were raped or assaulted, please believe them. Acknowledge the experience has affected their life and offer support. Phrases like: “I believe you,” “I’m sorry this happened to you,” “It’s not your fault,” and “What can I do to help,” can let them know that you care about them and that they are not alone.
SOS can offer free and confidential support for victims of sexual assault. SOS recommends getting medical attention following an assault, and S
OS Advocates can guide an individual through the court process. The SOS team can also offer resources for counseling, crime victim’s compensation, and aid with legal services. Call the SOS 24/7 helpline at 800-825-1295, text SOSKS to 847411, or get more information on the website: www.soskansas.com.