The University of Central Arkansas Nursing Students Association held its first Take Back the Night sexual and domestic violence awareness event Thursday at Simon Park in Conway.

Take Back the Night started in the 1960s and has turned into a global initiative that seeks to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all forms of sexual violence through holding awareness events and working to establish specific initiatives to create safe communities and respectful relationships, according to its website,

Grace Tolliver, who is involved in the nursing association, helped bring the move to Conway.

After recent rape incidents at UCA that made the news, Tolliver said they decided they needed to do something.

"It’s exceptionally important to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence," she said. "It’s definitely something that needs to be discussed on a community level."

Tolliver said she doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected in some way by it.

Kinsey Bowden said she assisted Tolliver and other members of the association who wanted to bring this specific type of awareness to the area.

"After the attacks that took place on the UCA campus at the beginning of the semester we realized something needed to be done," Bowden said. "The issue of domestic and sexual violence is not talked about and often goes unnoticed."

She said it’s important to bring knowledge and understanding of the issue to help victims realize they are not alone.

A big part of the nursing student association is serving in the community, so the group decided to hold the event.

"I believe the event went well especially since it was our first year," Bowden said. "Hopefully if we do it again, we can draw a bigger crowd."

Tolliver said because this was the events first year, turnout was small, but good.

"We definitely want to continue to have a presence in this type of advocacy," she said.

While there are several organizations in central Arkansas that advocate for the issue, Tolliver said she feels, as nursing students, they are in a position to make local groups more visible.

Take Back the Night events currently happen in more than 30 countries and on more than 600 campuses and communities.

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