Rise Up To Stop Violence Against Women: Join V-Day’s One Billion Rising Events
I thought long and hard before writing this article. I am not a person who easily shares personal stories or struggles. Not that I think my fellow human beings would not care, but sharing my story is like ripping the scab off a wound I would rather ignore than recall.
When I first saw this video, tears poured down my cheeks. It is so sad that probably many women would have the same experience watching it, since one out of three (one billion) women on this earth experiences abuse, in some form or another, during her lifetime.
It took me about 20 years to gather the courage to tell my mother that her best friend’s husband tried to rape me, in our own house, when I was only 12 years old. Imagine the man’s impudence. What made me kick that man in the crotch and push him away to run to the doorway to save myself, I will never know. But I did, with all my little 12 year old self. I did not even have breasts or a period yet.
My first kiss would not have to be that way, his disgusting cigarette smoke reeking, dirty mouth sucking my innocent 12 year old lips. To this day, kissing a man right after he smokes a cigarette nauseates me. I was trembling so hard that I could barely hold the door open as he passed slowly. He looked directly into my eyes and whispered, “Do not even think about telling your parents about this.” And I did not, for the next 20 years.
The second incident was at my first job when I was 18 years old. I wanted a summer job to make some money for extra spending during college. My single parent mother was already struggling to pay for all the expenses of running a household, plus supporting a child in college with her teacher’s salary. So I applied and was hired as a summer intern assistant to the CEO of an import-export company.
That man was more subtle, just like in the video. Still, it took him only three days to try to kiss me in his office, pushing me to the floor. I am a small woman at only 5’2” and 100 lbs. Yet, I found the strength to push him off of me so I could run to the door. I think I turn into a tiger when in danger.
As I ran down the stairs of the business plaza, I had to stop by the front entrance to take a breath. I tried to catch my breath while standing, weeping and disheveled, next the old guard at the door. He looked at me with his pitying eyes and said, “You are not the first one.” I am sure I was not.
I know I am not the only one, and I know these two incidents are nothing compared to what happened to the women of war-torn Congo when they were gang-raped and mutilated in front of their children throughout the conflict. I know my incidents can’t even compare to the rape camps where young girls and women were kept in Bosnia. I know they can’t be compared to the young Indian medical student’s demise. But, what I do know is one out of three women experiences some form abuse.
That is why what V-Day is doing is incredibly important work. What they are doing is moving the Earth to wake all of us up in order to stop these atrocities towards women and girls.
V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls, was founded by Eve Ensler and inspired by her award-winning play The Vagina Monologues. The play was made into a film for television in 2002 and it is produced all over the world each year to raise awareness and funds to help rape victims. I had a chance to watch one of these plays at the Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida a few years back. That is how I first learned about it, and I have been supporting V-Day’s work ever since.
There are over 5,500 other V-Day related events held annually in USA and around the world. This year promises to be the biggest ever.
On V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, 14 February 2013, V-Day is inviting one billion women and those who love them to walk out, dance, rise up and demand to end violence against women.
This is how V-Day describes what this project is all about.
A global strike
An invitation to dance
A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends
An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers
A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given
A new time and a new way of being
Visit their website for more information about the events near you: www.onebillionrising.org
This article was edited by Jeri Walker-Bickett