By Alyssa Schnugg
Organizers of the first Take Back the Night March around Oxford Square are hoping to have at least 260 people join to represent the number of possible victims of sexual assault in 2018.
Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi is holding the walk on National Day of Action during Sexual Assault Awareness Month on April 2. Walkers will meet at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at 5:30 p.m. and the march will begin at 6 p.m.
The march will go down Van Buren Avenue toward and around the Square and end up back the St. Peter’s.
Libby Lytle, adult victim service coordinator for Family Crisis Services said that while FCS has assisted with the University of Mississippi march each year, this year it was decided to bring the march to the Square.
“Family Crisis Services wants to bring awareness to the tragic occurrence of sexual assaults in our community, on our Square, because it is not just a campus crime,” Lytle said.
According to Lytle, 52 sexual assaults were reported to local enforcement agencies from the Lafayette-Oxford-University community.
“Statistically, three out of four sexual assaults are not reported – or only around 20 percent are reported – so, in theory, we had somewhere around 260 sexual assaults last year diversified between the three law enforcement agencies. That is 21.7 sexual assaults each month.”
The Take Back the Night March started in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1975 after a woman was murdered while walking home alone. The national effort each year aims to raise awareness and offer support to victims.
“My mission is to raise awareness of the extent of this problem in our community, so we as a community can provide the support needed for the victims,” Lytle said. “It is important to get the message out there for victims to feel comfortable in reporting this traumatic event so we can help with their recovery, regardless if it is reported to law enforcement.”
Lytle said FCS wants anyone who knows someone or is someone who has been affected by sexual assault to come to the march to “take back our streets and stand up against this horrible crime.”
Marchers will be carrying signs that say “Your Voice Has Power.” The color of Sexual Assault Awareness is teal and Child Abuse Awareness is royal blue. Lytle said marchers are encouraged to wear either or both of those colors during the march.
For more information, call 662-234-9929.