BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Hundreds gathered in downtown Bowling Green tonight to show support for sexual assault victims at the annual Take Back the Night event.
"It really shows that it does affect everyone -- friends and family -- and we can show that support. We might not know anyone affected by it, or not know that they've been affected, but it truly does affect us all," said Melissa Whitley, the executive director of Hope Harbor.
Whitley says sexual assault is an epidemic in our community, affecting more than 40-percent of women and even many men.
"I don't think people take it seriously. I don't think people understand that no means no. It's been standing for a long time, but they don't understand that no means no, that they can come forward if something happens to them, that there are people out there from the heart trying to support them and be there for them," said Trina McDonald, a speaker at the event.
McDonald, who was in the 2012 documentary "The Invisible War," told her story tonight.
"Being a military veteran, I was assaulted while I was in service. I've been able to find a voice over the past few years as part of making the Invisible War documentary, so it gave me the option to be able to change things in the country so I want to teach these people how to do that same thing," she said.
Like McDonald, many people had personal reasons for being there.
"I have in my RA experience known someone who's a victim. So this is a personal walk for me, and I think it's personal for the other people who are here too," said Maci Scott, a resident assistant at an all-female hall at WKU.
"I have a sister who was sexually assaulted back in 2009, and ever since then it's been something I just can't stand. I can't stand the thought of it. I just couldn't imagine or wish that on anybody," said Nathan Wilson, there with his Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
After hearing the music and speakers, the group marched a mile downtown and ended the night with a candlelight vigil.