"Take Back the Night" rally attracts hundreds to Capitol steps

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The steps of the state capitol were filled Thursday evening with demonstrators on a mission to end sexual violence in Alabama.

Hundreds gathered for the 15th annual Take Back the Night Rally and Vigil.  The event was sponsored by STAR: Standing Together Against Rape and the Maxwell Air Force Base Sexual Assault Programs.

Demonstrators gathered not only to take a stand against rape and sexual assaults, but also to encourage victims to come forward.

"We need to empower them by laws, by our medical support, our legal support, tonight is a recognition of that," said Ellen Brooks, the District Attorney for Montgomery County.

Victim's advocates say many victims are often too ashamed to report incidents.

"They're ashamed and embarrassed and they always wonder how others will view what happened to them," said Shantel Maull, a Victim's Advocate with the Air National Guard.

Bridgett Blakely is a survivor of domestic violence.  She said understands how hard it can be to come forward.

"No means no," she said.  it doesn't matter if you're married or not, because no person has the right to take control of a person's body after that word has been spoken."

And those who gathered here wanted women to know that are places to get help.

"There's a lot of help out there for you, a Victim's Advocate at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base.  "There's been who've been there and someone to hold you up."

Authorities said don't have the full picture of the problem , because so many crimes go unreported.   They hope events will provide a push for change.

If you are someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, you can call the Lighthouse Counseling Center's STAR Crisis Line at 213-1227 or 1-888-908-7273,

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