The people of Haliburton protested gendered violence and lit their way through the darkness with the annual Take Back the Night event Sept. 19.

Dozens of people gathered in Haliburton in solidarity with those across the region to speak out against sexual and domestic violence. They marched through the streets of Haliburton village by candlelight, accompanied by Haliburton Highlanders Pipes and Drums.

YWCA Peterborough Haliburton clinical therapist Denise Morton-Sayles told the crowd they are all a part of ending that violence.

“Many of us are here tonight who have lost and are on a journey to reclaim ourselves due to being victims of gendered violence and we need to continue to march and we need to continue to be a voice for change,” she said.

Morton-Sayles cited local stats. The YWCA in Minden has seen a 30 per cent increase in the number of women seeking services between 2018 and 2019. Over the same time, 38 per cent more women are accessing YWCA’s Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace.

“It could tell us that people know how to reach out,” she said. “But also the numbers of violence are not dwindling. Violence against women is not diminishing the way we want.”

Jean Coates said she has attended Take Back the Night for years with her mother and children.

“Both me and my mother have had abusive relationships and we just feel it’s good to support and make sure it’s well known there is help out there,” Coates said.

“It’s a great cause,” attendee Lorraine Evans said. “It’s not only for survivors today but also for future survivors.”

The Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, Fleming College and partner organizations organized the evening. Clinical counsellor Diana Primavesi said she was pleased by how it went.

“We had a great turnout from people in the local community,” she said.

Primavesi said Take Back the Night, which began in the 1970s, remains important to help those working to address gender-based violence.

“As someone who is a survivor and works in the field, it is helpful to be in solidarity with others who care about this issue,” she said. “It can be very isolating. So, I think that, for me, the biggest thing about Take Back the Night is for us to come together and raise up our voices to be heard.”

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