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Take Back the Night Reflects on Decade of Sexual Assault Education

Take Back the Night Reflects on Decade of Sexual Assault Education

Posted: April 5, 2019

Ten years ago, when Paula Madrigal was a Buffalo State social work student, she assisted with the sexual assault awareness event on campus, Take Back the Night (TBTN). 

“I was a non-traditional student and wanted to get involved on campus in ways that felt meaningful to myself and my peers,” she said.

Now, as the assistant director for prevention and health promotion for the Weigel Wellness Center, Madrigal spearheads the event that brings out 100 students and community members each spring.

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Buffalo State’s celebration of the national TBTN features spoken word poetry, visual art displays, musical acts, and dance performances by and on behalf of sexual assault survivors. It attracts students and others who want to support sexual assault awareness.

This year, Madrigal and her student assistants decided to examine how sexual assault prevention efforts have morphed through the years. “A Decade of Sexual Assault Awareness: Past. Present. Future” is the theme of the 39th annual event that will take place on Tuesday, April 9, at 6:00 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall. It’s free and open to the public.

On display will be various items TBTN organizers have made, used, and seen through the years for sexual assault education, such as quilts, flyers, photographs, stickers, pins/buttons, and banners. They also will present a video montage of past TBTN events.

“It’s interesting to see how much sexual assault prevention efforts have changed. We’ve gone from ‘No means No’ to ‘Yes means Yes.’ We’ve gone from telling women to carry whistles and walk with a buddy to educating both genders about what consent really means,” said Madrigal, who earned a master’s in social work from the University at Buffalo before joining the Weigel staff in 2012.

“The notion that it’s a stranger jumping out of the bushes has been replaced with the fact that sexual assault is much more likely to be committed by someone you know.” 

Representatives from campus and community organizations, including one with therapy dogs, will be present outside the Social Hall to speak with attendees, and refreshments will be available. 

“Students leave the program feeling inspired to be part of a positive community doing good things,” Madrigal said. “Maybe they are not survivors themselves, but they want to support survivors.”

Madrigal said they are still looking for individual and groups who would like to share their stories or their art for the event as well as help behind the scenes. If interested, email

Organized and sponsored by the Weigel Wellness Center, Take Back the Night is co-sponsored by the Equity and Campus Diversity Office, the Dean of Students Office, and United Students Government.

For more information call (716) 878-4719 or visit the Health Promotions webpage or Facebook page. 

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