Empowering sexual assault survivors, dumping Donald Trump

Sacramento’s annual Take Back the Night rally calls out Republican presidential candidate following uncovered remarks

The timing was coincidental, but poetic.

In the shadow of the Native American Health Center—on the same day the nation heard Donald Trump’s recorded boasts of being famous enough to get away with sexual assault—feminists of all walks gathered to shed light on the victims and survivors of such crimes during Sacramento’s 37th annual Take Back the Night rally.

The statistics are stark: Every 107 seconds, a sexual assault occurs in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey. About 400 rapes are reported in Sacramento County each year, according to California’s attorney general.

Meanwhile, sheriff’s investigators are still hunting the male suspect who is believed to have sexually assaulted two women near the Arden-Arcade neighborhood on September 19 and 27. The victims’ ages are 15 and 21.

While those assaults were perpetrated by a stranger, most sexual crimes up for sentencing on the Sacramento County District Attorney’s website occurred between neighbors, friends and blood relatives.

On October 8, Barbara Campbell shared her story of domestic violence, for which the march also raised awareness. A seasoned public speaker, she confessed to SN&R that she was nervous while delivering her speech—that she’s never shared something so personal before.

Campbell is a Sacramento-based transwoman who kept her identity closeted to preserve her professional career in the Air Force. In the early 2000s, Campbell says she had a whirlwind romance and close relationship with a woman who initially accepted and valued her trans identity. Later, Campbell alleges, the partner became physically abusive shortly after Campbell transferred closer to home, from the Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany to Beale Air Force Base in Marysville in August 2004.

The two are now separated, and Campbell says the courts have refused to grant her visitation rights to the couple’s daughter.

“When someone tells you their story and it sounds completely illogical, believe them, because if we were going to make this up, we’d make up something way better,” Campbell concluded.

Also in the gathering of about 300 were eight event volunteers wearing swimsuits and underwear in a demonstration of body pride. They came armed with felt-tipped markers and asked strangers to write on their skin.

“We are out here because society tells us that our body has to look a certain way,” said Take Back the Night organizer Maryanne Henke, explaining the body-positivity display. “Tonight we are standing in our bras and underwear and our bathing suits so that we can make a statement that our bodies are perfect exactly the way that they are and that we are not going to buy into society’s unreasonable and unrealistic standards.”

Event organizer Tina Lemoine helped get the crowd going with her topical prompts about the Republican presidential candidate’s recorded boasts from 2005.

“When I say dump, y’all say Trump,” shouted Lemoine, a member of the Brown Berets de SacrAzlatán. “Dump!”

“Trump!” the crowd yelled back.

At rally’s end, many who listened to testimonials headed out to march through the streets of downtown and Midtown Sacramento. Along sidewalks lined with bars, restaurants and boutiques, they shouted, “Yes means yes! No means no! However we dress! Wherever we go!”

Event organizer Diana Stantz offered her reason for being there.

“I am a survivor of [sexual assault] so Take Back the Night is just—it’s like I found my own purpose here,” she said. “This is my way of taking action and reclaiming that experience to help educate others on the dynamics and prevalence of sexual assault and to help ensure that other survivors know they aren’t alone.”