16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence 2013

Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women is a social mobilization platform on ending violence against women and girls. Launched in November 2009 by UN Women, Say NO – UNiTE showcases advocacy efforts and engages people from all walks of life, online and on the ground.(1)

Connect with Say No To Violence for news updates, stories, and ideas on how to get involved in your area. During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign (November 25-December 10), people around the globe will be wearing orange to raise awareness and act in solidarity against the violence and oppression of women. How will you be involved?

INSPIRATION TO GET YOUR ORANGE ON:

  • Share your stories and messages on Twitter on how you “Orange Your World” during the 16 Days of Activism. (Use #orangeurworld on Twitter)
  • Wear orange, take a picture of yourself and share with the world why you are taking a stand by tweeting #Iwearorange because…
  • Join UN Women’s #AskPhumzile Twitter chat with Executive Director @phumzileunwomen (Date TBD)
  • Tweetup with @SayNO_UNiTE and worldwide friends at the end of the 16 Days of Activism on 10 December. (Check UNiTE website for further information as available)
  • Read International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  • Visit “Orange Your World in 16 Days” on Facebook
  • Check out more social media sites: Google+,Pinterest, Instagram
  • Visit UN Women In Focus web page
  • Watch the UNiTE Campaign and Permanent Mission of Italy’s hosting of a Theatrical Performance called “Wounded to Death”.

Powerless and silence go together. -Margaret Atwood

Keep the flame of hope burning… Speak out against all forms of violence and oppression of women and girls, (and while you’re at it, wear orange!)

(1) Say NO-UniTE to End Violence Against Women website

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women


“I welcome the chorus of voices calling for an end to the violence that affects an estimated one in three women in her lifetime. I applaud leaders who are helping to enact and enforce laws and change mindsets. And I pay tribute to all those heroes around the world who help victims to heal and to become agents of change.” –Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

This year, the UNITE Campaign is extending Orange Day to 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, starting November 25, (International Day to End Violence Against Women), through December 10, (Human Rights Day).

The Secretary General’s Campaign UNITE to End Violence Against Women
has proclaimed the 25th of each month, “Orange Day”, stating: Among other actions, the Orange Day invites us to wear something orange to highlight its calls for the eradication of violence against women without reservation, equivocation or delay.

QUICK FACTS:

1 in 3 women & girls experience violence in their lifetime. Violence against women is never acceptable, and not inevitable.

Over 64 million girls worldwide are child brides. 1 in 3 girls will be married before they turn 18.

140 million girls & women have suffered Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It’s a form of violence against women and girls.

40-50% of women in EU countries face unwanted sexual advances or other forms of sexual harassment at work.

Ending violence against women is smart for economies. Intimate partner violence cost USD 5.8 billion in the US, GBP 22.9 billion in England and Wales, and AUD 13.6 billion in Australia.

Violence against women happens everywhere, every day. In cities, women are twice as likely as men to experience violence.

Every minute 1 young woman is infected with #HIV. Violence against women increases the risk of new infections.

Women are 2-4 times more likely than men to get HIV.

For 30% of women worldwide, their first sexual experience was forced.

Over half of all victims of sexual assault are girls under the age of 16.

Join advocates from around the world for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Share how you plan to “Orange Your World” (#orangeurworld) from November 25-December 10, with actions to end violence against women and girls. Together, we can raise our voices and make a difference!

Get Involved & Learn More.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Freedom Series: Abuse to Favor

 “For me, my dreams were shaped out of a childhood that was fenced in by fear”

Abuse to Favor is a 96-page minibook that is a part of the Freedom Series created by popular author and speaker, Michelle Borquez. Each booklet shares a woman’s true story about her journey from brokenness to freedom.

In Abuse to Favor, Jo Ann Aleman shares her story, struggles, and triumph over abuse.  It begins with her father, a man she recalls as generous and loving with his children, but extremely abusive to their mother.  Her “normal” was a violently abuse home life fueled by alcohol binges. A home (a life) that healthy families would see as filled with fear-invoking, pain-inducing, spirit-shattering chaos.  Time and again, her mother would pack the children up and flee for safety, then return when things seemed more settled, and so it went on and on.

The cycle brought on by her father’s rage and abuse directed at her mother caused her to go to a place she felt more secure–her mind–a place that no one could touch, a place that seemed safe. Like so many others in her situation, she dreamed about how her life would be different. She fantasized about someone coming to rescue and protect her: a savior.

But, as with any story of abuse, there’s always more than what appears on the surface. Why did her mother stay in that abusive situation? Her mother stayed because of her own experience with abuse. She and her siblings experienced great physical, emotional and mental abuse by their stepfather.  So she promised herself that her future children would never be subjected to a stepfather. But it wasn’t that he was a stepfather. It was that he was a broken abusive man.

“Many times we think of abuse as being only physical; however, abuse takes on many forms. Sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse—even neglect–are all perversions of real, unconditional love.”

Fast forward to Jo Ann Aleman’s adult life… with her childhood promises to herself still with her, she married someone she thought would take her in a direction that was new and better. To a place she could only recognize in her dreams. But he didn’t.  She shares about his abuse and the ultimate disintegration of the marriage.  So longing to be loved, she quickly found herself in another marriage, this time to an older man. She hoped he would bring the security she so desperately wanted. Again, it was not to be found. He too, abused her both physically and emotionally.

“Many nights I was awakened by his fists pummeling my face. He would get so drunk that he would black out, and the next morning we would wake up to a house that looked like a tornado had ripped through it… He was bent on compete destruction.”

As you may have noticed in your own life, there is this resilience about human nature. No matter how bad things get, no matter how improbable the odds, in our little broken torn-apart state, we still somehow find a way to reach out like a flower in the shadows, straining toward the sunshine, hoping against hope for something good.  Jo Ann Aleman was no different. Her heart reached out yet again, longing for love. She spent twelve years in “prison” with her third husband. A man who abused her through fear and intimidation, lashing out through physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse. But this time, it spilled over onto her daughter.

That’s when something shifted. This time, she didn’t reach out to a man, but to God. She writes, “Although we are all somewhat conditioned by our environment, something deep inside of us reveals the truth.” There was more for her.  She wanted once and for all, to be free.

Sharon Kay Ball (a professional counselor) uses biblical illustrations to define healthy and unhealthy thinking and behaviors, and speaks to the issues of conflict, power, authority, power struggles, and abuse that can affect any type of relationship. She also walks readers through common abuser behavior:  using rage, silence, intimidation, altering your sense of reality, criticizing, and blame-shifting to control their victim.

“His words only confirmed my feelings. They shaped me, took root in my heart, and I believed the things he said.”

Ball breaks down the phases in the cycle of abuse and talks about making a “safe plan.” Although it’s crucial to get out of an abusive relationship physically, it’s not enough. Victims need to purge themselves from the damaging affects of abuse that are left embedded in their minds and spirits. That means talking about trust, low self-image, forgiveness, anger, and learning how to move forward.

Aleman writes, “I was free on the surface, yet broken and deeply wounded inside.” That was, until she decided to no longer allow herself to be defined by abusive men, but by a loving God who offered hope and healing.

You may also be interested in:

Domestic Violence: But He Really is a Good Person

What is Emotional Abuse?

Quotes From Women Who Have Suffered Emotional Abuse

Sexual Violence Against Women: Rape, Abuse and Incest

Innocence Lost: Women and Childhood Sexual Abuse

Note: Rose Publishing provided me with an advanced reader copy of this booklet.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Violence Against Women: The Last Word

Violence has long been used as a weapon to punish, marginalize and silence women, and to control their behavior, attitudes and actions. In the case of war crimes, it is used to inflict such terror that it causes those who observe it to become paralyzed by fear and ultimately heed the control. The actions of the men who devise, commit and insight others to violence will be considered successful if the violence–and the damage left in it’s destructive path–is allowed the last word.

According to a recent report, Afghanistan’s president Karzai supported a decree by a group of government-sponsored religious leaders that stated women are worth less than men, should not leave their home without a male escort, or mix with men at school or in the workplace. Very young girls can be given as wives to men many years older; and, if raped, forced to marry their rapist. Girls in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and other countries have long been subject to sexual harassment, violence and arranged marriages. In Indonesia, women are being asked not to provoke sexual violence. Though we are aware of specific cultures whose laws and ways are deeply rooted in belief systems unfavorable to women, we still find stories of gender-based violence rocking parts of Latin America, Africa and western nations as well. 

Choose Life, Choose Power

How do victims do more than just “stay alive” after the violence? Is it possible to go back to really “living” , to being whole again, when the loss and torment linger?  Are there women who not only survive, but thrive in the aftermath of such physical pain and emotional terror?  Yes, but how?  They choose to get up in the morning and not give up on their life–family, career, dreams… themselves–because of what happened to them. They choose to move forward.  But it’s easier said than done… In fact, how is it even possible?

By choosing what we think, what we dwell on, and not allowing an act, feeling, circumstance or experience to define us.

There’s the key: “Define”. Does it negate reality? No, but we give power to the things we choose to dwell on. If women who’ve suffered violence make a conscious decision to invoke negative memories, to relive the details of the things that caused them great pain and suffering,  and to keep their abuser at the forefront of their thoughts, they are, in essence, choosing to live there (or at least hang out there), instead of in the present.  In contrast, to think on the equal reality of who they are and their God-given destinies–that they were born into this world for a reason and that their unique life has a purpose that is good–they choose life, they choose freedom…  They choose POWER.

The Experience Does Not Define Her

The pain and fear is excrutiatingly real, but it is only a part of her story. It is not the definition of her life. The violence and marginalization of her personhood are things she experienced, yes; but she musn’t give the experience permission to dictate the rest of her story. She was victimized and had an experience that cannot be erased. Thankfully, it is also true that she has a future and hope. She lived through it for a reason, and that is to live–really LIVE.

While covering the Egyptian uprisings in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, American journalist Lara Logan, found herself surrounded by an angry mob of men and spirited away from her CBS film crew. She was viciously stripped and suffered a “brutal and sustained” sexual assault.  In her testimony, she spoke of learning to live with the triggers of trauma, unwelome flashbacks, incapacitating anxiety and, nightmares and/or fears, joining many other women who have suffered violence.  She pointed out how difficult the healing process can be even when trying to maintain a positive attitude.

What keeps her going?  Like so many others, it is the people she’s met along the way. She thinks about the strength it has taken for others to go on after their families have been massacred, or, those who live in countries where women can’t speak out at all.

The Last Word

She recalled one woman in Africa who was raped and disemboweled, who said she “had to live” because she wasn’t going to give her attackers everything. Lara Logan knows in part, how that woman felt. She had her own brutal experience. She has her own memories and emotions to deal with.  That’s part of what drives her today.  She chose to take back her power, believe in her own destiny, and refuses to be defined by the attack. So, STAND–even if it takes everything in you, because the last word is yours, and you are worth it!

Maybe you (or someone you care about) has been a victim of violence. How have you been able to take back your power by not allowing the incident to define you, or your tomorrow? 

Related Reading: Lara Logan: Life is Not About Dwelling on the Bad, Women in the World Summit, Congo Women: Women of War, Women of Courage

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It is confidential, free and available in more than 170 languages. 800-799-SAFE (7233).

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”
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Sexual Violence Against Women: Rape, Abuse and Incest

TWO MINUTES… What Can You Do in Two Minutes?

Put on your lipstick.  Make a quick phone call.  Check your email. Let the dog out.  Change your dress.  Fix a cup of coffee.  Write a postcard.

 QUICK FACT: Did you know that someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every 2 minutes?

Most research concludes that girls and women are at substantially higher risk of being sexually assaulted than males (Matsakis, 1991). These girls and women are not just part of another crime statistic either. They are people we love–Our sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends, co-workers, and the list goes on.

Understanding the Definitions

RAPE: The crime of forcing somebody to have sex against their will

ABUSE: The physical, sexual, verbal or psychological maltreatment of a person

INCEST: sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden by law to marry

Sexual assault and violence against women do not discriminate. They happen to girls and women of all races and every religious, educational, and financial background.

QUICK FACT: Did you know that 15 out of 16 rapists will never spend a single day in jail?

Help for Victims of Sexual Assault

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, and publicizes the hotlines’ free, confidential services; educates the public about sexual violence. RAINN also leads national efforts to prevent sexual violence, improve services to victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

Resources for Assault Victims & Their Advocates

Tips for Sexual Assault Victims

Tips for Friends of the Sexual Assault Victims

International Sexual Assault Resources

More Information on Sexual Violence Against Women

“May the love hidden deep inside your heart find the love waiting in your dreams. May the laughter that you find in your tomorrow wipe away the pain you find in your yesterdays.” –Author Unknown

Recommended Reading

Recovering from Rape by Linda E. Ledray, R.N., PH.D

The Rape Recovery Handbook by Aphrodite Matsakis

As Cicero said, “While there’s life, there’s hope”.  While the recovery is daunting, you made it through.  Your life matters, and you are here for a purpose.  Be there for your sisters, and make sure to be there for yourself–you are worth it!

© by April McCallum, Destiny’s Women

(Photo by erikadotnet)

Sources: RAINN, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Matsakis, Aphrodite. (1991). When the Bough Breaks. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

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The Clothesline Project: Honoring Women Victims and Survivors of Violence


How would you feel if someone hung your deepest darkest secrets out on a clothesline for everyone to see?  Your hurts, fears, betrayal, anguish and shame just blowing in the wind?

Women are doing just that across the world!

 

THE CLOTHESLINE PROJECT

The Clothesline Project was designed as a voice for victims of rape, battering, incest and child sexual abuse–and to honor victims and survivors of intimate violence. As its tagline states, it has been: “Bearing Witness to Violence Against Women for over 20 years”.

The idea of women exchanging information over backyard fences while hanging clothes on a line, prompted something special in visual artist, Rachel Carey-Harper. It presented a unique vehicle for raising awareness about the issues surrounding the violence and oppression of women. True to its objective, it created something remarkable—something that would leave an imprint on viewers, while also acting as an exercise to promote healing.

 

“The concept was simple – let each woman tell her story in her own unique way, using words and/or artwork to decorate her shirt. Once finished, she would then hang her shirt on the clothesline. This very action serves many purposes. It acts as an educational tool for those who come to view the Clothesline; it becomes a healing tool for anyone who makes a shirt – by hanging the shirt on the line, survivors, friends and family can literally turn their back on some of that pain of their experience and walk away; finally it allows those who are still suffering in silence to understand that they are not alone.”

At a distance, they look like beautiful colors gently blowing in the breeze. As you draw closer though, you see more than just beautiful colors. You see the shattered lives of women.  The t-shirts hang out for anyone to see.  To see the messages that are written on the outside of the shirts, but more powerfully, from inside of the women— messages from their hearts and minds.

Some represent the victims themselves while others are from family and friends who use their voices to speak on behalf of their loved ones. As individual as each woman and each crime is, so too are the messages they want to convey to the world and to their oppressors. Some are statements of what happened to them, like the one that simply says: “Rape”. Others are messages to their abuser: “I hate you for what you did, you took my innocence and happiness”, while others are messages to themselves: “I Am Beautiful!”; or, from loved ones: “She didn’t deserve to be hurt!”

RAINBOWS OF HOPE

The shirts are color coded to show the form of abuse and whether the victim survived the abuse they experienced. 

White represents women who died because of violence

Yellow or Beige represents battered or assaulted women

Red, Pink, and Orange are for survivors of rape and sexual assault

Blue and Green represent survivors of incest and sexual abuse

Purple or Lavender represent women attacked because of their sexual orientation

Black is for women attacked for political reasons

BREAKING THROUGH THE SHROUD OF SILENCE

Profound and often difficult to read, the messages displayed in a kaleidoscope of color are reminiscent of a rainbow, reminding us thankfully — that there is hope.

“It is the very process of designing a shirt that gives each woman a new voice with which to expose an often horrific and unspeakable experience that has dramatically altered the course of her life. Participating in this project provides a powerful step towards helping a survivor break through the shroud of silence that has surrounded her experience.”

CREATING & ADVOCATING — THE VOICES SPEAK 

–       Daddy please stop!   

–       30 years later am I still screaming?   

–       I hate every evil act done toward women

–       It started when I was 2

–       Every child deserves their childhood

–      Who was to save me from you?

–       My baby, she was killed in a satanic ritual, I was only 14

–       Don’t suffer in silence

–       In loving memory… You Are Free!


© by April McCallum, Destiny’s Women

(Photos by Al Fed, Mallory Dowd, Cheryl Wolfe, Michael Hanscom)

The Clothesline Project (CLP) started as a program on Cape Cod, MA in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women.  Start your own Clothesline Project.

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