Take Back the Night Recognized at Averett Again this Year

Posted on November 6th, 2020 by Matt Bell

Take Back the Night, an international event that brings awareness to domestic violence and sexual abuse, was observed again at Averett this year.

“We are raising awareness for people who have endured sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence and domestic assault. We want to bring awareness and celebrate them for being strong and not only surviving it, but actually being able to tell their story and having the ability to speak up,” said sophomore and physical education major Jayden Covington. He is also a football player and Bonner leader.

As Covington pointed out, abuse and assault doesn’t stop because there is a pandemic.

“We, the Bonner leaders, take this so seriously. It may just be a T-shirt and a bag with information, but you don’t know how that information could make a difference in someone’s life,” he said. “It’s an event to stand together, and to let them know you’re not alone.’

Ordinarily, Take Back the Night is held outside with special guests or Averett employees and students sharing their personal stories of survival. This year’s event saw a few changes due to COVID-19 and the University’s health and safety guidelines.

Students received a T-shirt and bag with information pertaining to sexual and domestic violence. In the hallway of the Student Center, silhouettes of victims and their stories stood to bring awareness. Throughout the afternoon, students stopped to read the stories of local victims.

Among the stories was Heather Matherly, who was killed by her abuser in September 2018.

Matherly was brutally beaten and murdered after returning to her Brosville, Va. home to talk to her would-be killer, then ex-boyfriend. A Pittsylvania County jury convicted her abuser to life in prison in 2019.

Covington said speaking out is an important step to spreading awareness and being unified against violence.

“I hate domestic violence and sexual assault. I’ve endured some domestic violence myself. I’ve had friends and family members who have endured violence and sexual assault themselves,” Covington said. “Those who come out in college or come out later in life, and have that courage to finally speak out, it is so important. I feel like no one should have to endure violence.”

Covington said in just his two years on campus, he feels the awareness has helped to strengthen the student body. He also encourages anyone who may have information about a current abuse case or victim of violence to speak up.

“Don’t be silent. If you see something, say something,” he said. “If you see it, or if you hear about it, get that person help.”