Hundreds support 29th annual Take Back the Night in Blacksburg

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) At Virginia Tech, hundreds came out for the 29th annual Take Back the Night. It's a rally and march through campus and Blacksburg fighting against gender based violence like sexual assault and rape.

Hundreds filled College Avenue near Henderson Lawn in downtown Blacksburg before taking off marching for all to see.

Many said gender-based violence is an issue either they themselves or someone they know has been a victim of.

Virginia Tech Instructor Lindsay Kahle said to the crowd, “From the first time I started having sexual contact, I'm not even sure I wanted it. Actually, I know that I didn't want it.”

Virginia Tech Junior Christine Veiga said after the march, “This event is very near and dear to my heart just for personal experiences I've had as well as close friends and family members that have experienced different forms of sexual violence and abuse.”

Students said Thursday night they believe there is a gender-based violence issue at Virginia Tech. But organizers say this event won't be able to stop it from happening.

Susan Anderson, the Faculty Advisor for the United Feminist Movement at Virginia Tech said, “We're trying to empower people to create change on their own, one person at a time, one community at a time.”

So to empower, hundreds went from College Avenue, into Virginia Tech's campus, showing support from all ages to people on campus and in the dorms of the university.

Then they took to Downtown, even blocking Main Street so people in bars and restaurants could see them and hear their message.

Virginia Tech Taylor Flynn said, “I think it's an awesome thing to see, mostly because it's something that's showing that we're able to band together, we're able to talk about something that's really stigmatized and we're able to show that there are more people willing to end it than there are perpetrating it.”

And while nearly 30 years of Take Back the Night hasn't stopped things like rape and sexual assault, there's a hope it still makes some change in the area.

University Freshman Rafael Arbex-Murut said, “I think it sends a message of hope and unity that we're all in this together, very awe-inspiring in general, it sends a positive message for sure, a positive vibe.”

Along with Thursday night's event, Virginia Tech has been showcasing the Clothesline Project. T-shirts with messages from victims of sexual crimes. They were taken down Thursday, but a workshop for people to make their own shirts happens tomorrow.

Organizers also said they hope the Virginia Tech community will support Radford University's Take Back the Night happening next Wednesday at 8.

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