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Published: Friday, 4/8/2005

Annual program focuses on violence against women

The annual Take Back the Night program, which begins at 6 tonight at the East Toledo Family Center, aims to raise awareness of violence against women in all its forms, organizers said yesterday during a taping of The Editors television program.

The Take Back the Night began in 1994 in Toledo - as it did elsewhere in the 1970s - "as a way for women to gather to symbolically take back the night and by doing that, take back the streets, take back our homes, take back our lives, from violence and the threat of violence, because even women who aren't survivors of violence, all women live every day with the threat of violence," said Diane Docis, of the University of Toledo sexual assault education and prevention program.

Domestic violence is a vastly underreported crime for a variety of reasons - among them, that domestic violence happens in important relationships, said Gabrielle Davis, director of the domestic violence clinic at UT's college of law. "Many times, victims and batterers are in love, and they're complicated relationships," she said. "So there is a reluctance sometimes on the part of victims to report because they don't want their batterer to get into trouble or to have to go to jail, or lose his job, or lose his reputation in the community."

While victims are told to report the crime, Ms. Docis said, the criminal justice system "doesn't necessarily provide what the victim - what the survivor - is looking for, which is, in the case of domestic violence, they want the violence to end, perhaps they don't want the relationship to end, but they want the violence to end."

Survivors of sexual assault may say they want to make sure their assailant doesn't harm anyone else, "but of course, that's not in her control," Ms. Docis said.

In sexual assaults, victims and perpetrators know each other 80 percent of the time. Yet so much of what women have been told - don't walk alone; check the backseat of the car - deals with assaults by strangers. These days, educators are offering a broader message to all, including men: "What can we do to recognize and respond [to] and resist a culture of violence that permeates society?" Ms. Docis said.

She and Ms. Docis were questioned by Marilou Johanek, of The Blade editorial board.

The Editors will be broadcast at 8:30 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.



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