North Tahoe women "Take Back the Night" | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe women "Take Back the Night"

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

A 17-year-old local high school student cried Wednesday evening as she shared her heartbreaking experiences surviving multiple sexual assaults.

She explained to an audience of more than 50 men and women how abuse, rape and teen pregnancy had affected her life, and how Tahoe Women’s Services saved her.

As part of April’s designation as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Tahoe Women’s Services hosted a Take Back the Night rally at Commons Beach in Tahoe City, where local residents spoke out against sexual assault.

“Everyone has the right to a life free of violence, and awareness is the key to prevention,” said Wallis Adams, an Americorps volunteer with Tahoe Women’s Services, before Wednesday’s rally and march.

Take Back the Night is a national protest against rape and other violence against women. The international rallies typically include candlelight vigils, empowerment marches and survivor testimonials.

“It’s based around the idea that people should feel safe ” that the threat of violence should not deter us from being out at night,” said Krishna Desai, Tahoe Women’s Services violence prevention educator and Americorps volunteer.

Nearly 60 Truckee, North Tahoe and Incline Village men and women of all ages attended the rally, championing the event and the cause for various personal reasons.

“I’m here in support. My friend works for Tahoe Women’s Services, and [sexual assault] is definitely something that feels important and the community needs to know,” said 23-year-old Kate Pszotka of Kings Beach. “I’ve been personally affected. I’ve known about Take Back the Night for years and never been able to do it at home, and now I’m here.”

Wednesday also marked Denim Day, an event spurred by an Italian court ruling that freed a rapist because his victim was wearing tight jeans. The day, a time for everyone to sport their favorite Levi’s, is a protest against the decision blaming the victim.

Though Tahoe Women’s Services staff and volunteers said they had no expectations for Take Back the Night, they said they were pleasantly surprised with the turnout.

“Eventually we’d like to get everyone to understand how people are affected by sexual assault,” said Desai. “That’s the goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”