The YWCA and other community organizations are working to help area women take back the night.

“Women have always had to fear walking alone at night,” Rebecca Kroeger, community educator and sexual assault advocate at the YWCA, said.

The Take Back The Night walk will be held at 6 p.m. at Ashford University. The program will focus on hope.

Speakers include Clinton Mayor Rodger Holm, Police Chief Brian Guy, Assistant County Attorney Liz Srp, First Assistant County Attorney Rus Barlow and Kroeger.

Musical performances will feature Charles Galusha, Andrea Leinschmids and The Gussy Project, featuring Mia Bourek and Autumn Reicherts. Two poems written by a victim who wants to remain anonymous will also be read at the event.

Kroeger and Ronelle Clark, crisis service director at the YWCA, said Ashford University has been helpful and supportive of the event. Myk Meador, a graphic design student at Ashford, created the logo and poster design for TBTN.

“It’s something to think about when you’re in a room, in a meeting or whatever and you look around you go, ‘I’m probably sitting next to someone who has been sexually abused.’ And you just never know if they have actually gotten the help they needed or if they haven’t,” Kroeger said.

The first Take Back The Night event occurred at The International Tribunal on Crimes against Women on March 4, 1976 in Brussels, Belgium, when 2,000 women representing 40 countries attended the event. This first TBTN march occurred as a candlelight procession through the streets of Brussels.

Clark said TBTN is about women and men taking a stand against sexual violence and to raise awareness that sexual violence does happen in the community. Kroeger said roughly one in three women and one in seven boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18.

“Rape is one of the most under-reported crimes in our society and people often do not reach out for help. And I guess I want to reach out to them that if someone has been a victim, or victimized by rape or incest that we are here to offer them hope and guidance and resource,” Clark said.

A new community organization, the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is being created to allow evidence to be collected more effectively and resources are given to the victims. SART encompasses Clinton County and beyond.

SART includes: Genesis Medical Center in DeWitt, DeWitt Police, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, Clinton Police, Camanche Police, Mercy Medical Center, the YWCA, the Clinton County Attorney’s Office, Ashford University and its campus security and agencies in Fulton, Ill.

The group met for the first time last week. The next meeting will be May 13.

“Everybody, whether they know it or not, in some way, shape or form, is affected by this (sexual violence),”  Kroeger said.