Activists around the world — including several in Indianapolis — will take to the streets Feb. 14, embracing the transformative power of dance with the One Billion Rising movement to raise awareness of the worldwide plague of violence against women.
The action launches on the 15th anniversary of V-Day, an annual action celebrated with performances of Eve Ensler'sVagina Monologues. So far, V-Day organizers report raising more than $90 million, enabling global-scale education and outreach.
Now Ensler has called for The Rise, summarized as: "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."
"One Billion Rising is about simply rising, dancing, and not staying silent when one billion women around the world are experiencing patriarchal violence," Mary Kate Dugan, president of the Indiana National Organization for Women, said in an email exchange.
"We believe every day should be violence awareness, but on V-day we dance," said organizers of the Julian Center event, led by organizer Christine Kung'u. The Julian Center Rises will kick off at 3 p.m.
"We dance with the nation and we dance with the world to show we are rising against this global problem."
Consider these statistics provided by the Julian Center:
-In 2012 the Julian Center provided shelter to over 1,100 women and children who were fleeing or made homeless by domestic abuse. [Since Beacon of Hope opened in 2009, they've helped an additional 4,000.]
-2-1-1, Connect2Help reported a 10 percent increase in calls for assistance from victims of domestic abuse over 2011.
* In Indiana, one in every seven women is a victim of rape.
* One in four women in the U.S. are victims of domestic violence.
* Three women in the U.S. are murdered by their partners every day.
* One in six women in the U.S. have survived attempted or completed sexual assault.
* Beacon of Hope adds it started a foster pet program because advocates discovered "one of the leading reasons women do not leave their abuser is because of their pets."
This event is not about male-bashing or downplay violence against humanity in general, but it does have something to do with rejecting systemic sicknesses within a patriarchal society.
"I hope that One Billion Rising opens the conversation about violence and sexual assault on all levels of the community," Angela Leisure, another organizer of the Downtown event, wrote in an email.
"This has got to stop. We won't hide in silence any longer, together we are stronger and more powerful than we are alone, and we don't have to be alone ... We are not willing to remain Victims forever. I am a Victor, I am still here, I will not be told to sit down and shut up ever again ...
"Strong women, and strong men are speaking up, they are speaking out against the small, weak people who have to resort to this kind of pervasive violence to keep women in line, and under control.
Such awareness-raising activities have made a difference, said Terry Moore, executive director at Beacon of Hope.
"Domestic violence is no longer a best kept secret," she wrote. "I want to see more companies, organizations, churches, and individuals get behind all of us working tirelessly to make our communities a safer place.I want domestic violence awareness to be out there just as much as cancer awareness because we are losing too many lives to domestic violence – 63, to be exact, from June 2011-July 2012.
Editor's Note: Due to space restrictions in the paper, we had to heavily edit the responses we received from the various people involved in this event and working to aid victims of violence. Because the Internet is not burdened with such limitations we've appended a more comprehensive (still slightly condensed) accounting of the spirited responses submitted to the news desk.
NUVO: How did you first hear of One Billion Rising?
Angela Leisure, a co-organizer of the Downtown Dance Strike:I first heard of it, because I read Eve Ensler's open letter to Todd Akin, and followed that to the One Billion Rising site.No one had done anything here in Indianapolis, and as the capitol of the state, it just didn't seem right, so here we are.
Mary Kate Dugan, president, Indiana National Organization for Women: One Billion Rising in Indianapolis is a collaboration of local feminists (Monica Connerly and Angela Leisure), the National Organization of Women Indianapolis Chapter, and Central Indiana Jobs with Justice.Most of the individuals involved with the planning first heard about the event through Eve Ensler and her media presence.
Julian Center: We were looking to find the annual events organized by V-Day, when we came across the One Billion Rising movement. We saw different people around the world rising and felt it was a great idea, to join the movement in solidarity to demand an end to violence against women.
The One Billion Rising campaign began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. On Feb. 14, 2013, V-Day's 15th anniversary, activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities and women and men across the world will come together to express their outrage, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women.
NUVO: What prompted you to help organize the local action?
Mary Kate Dugan: I personally got involved with the organization and planning when IUPUI student Monica Connerly approached our local NOW chapter and asked what we were doing to take part in the campaign.After that we found Amy Shackelford of Central Indiana JWJ, (JWJ had previously participated in the Vagina Monologues), and community member Angela Leisure, an Indianapolis resident, had heard about the event through Eve Ensler's website, saw that there was no event in Indianapolis, and decided that if she wanted an event, she should organize it.Monica made contact with her through the OBR website and Facebook group, and then we had a planning meeting.
Seeing the enthusiasm for the event in the broader Indianapolis community and on the part of strong, outspoken local feminists like Monica and Angela inspired me.The broader reason for organizing the event is that we must end all sexual and domestic violence.
Julian Center: At the Julian Center we help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We see how violence affects our community; we see how children who are witnesses are affected by violence in their families. Each day, with each survivor, we find the strength to work harder on their behalf. But each day, we are witness to the devastating effects of violence against women. We organized this event in protest and in solidarity with others all around the world to DEMAND an end to the violence!Violence against women affects us all individually, as a community and as a nation. To stand by and say nothing is not an option.
NUVO: What do you hope One Billion Rising Indy will accomplish locally and on a larger scale?
Angela Leisure: I hope that One Billion Rising opens the conversation about violence and sexual assault on all levels of the community. It doesn't exist only in far away, or terribly poor places, it happens right here, right now in our own communities, and we need to stop supporting and defending it with our silence.
Mary Kate Dugan: Locally, One Billion Rising will bring together men and women from the Indianapolis community whom are committed to ending all rape and violence.We want to broaden the feminist movement in Indianapolis and educate the community about feminism.On a larger scale, we need the Violence Against Women Act to be passed by Congress. (Senator Donnelly co-sponsors the bill, but Dan Coats, who has previously co-sponsored, has not.We need every Hoosier to call or write Dan Coats and ask him for his support for VAWA.)
Julian Center: We hope to raise more awareness on the devastating effects of violence against women in our community. We hope that we give strength to victims and survivors of abuse. We hope for everyone to know that we need each other to end this scourge in our society.
NUVO: What should people do to prepare?
Angela Leisure: The flash mob will be on the circle, the more the merrier, point people to us, we'll happily dance with them as well. I hope you will be there.
Mary Kate Dugan: One Billion Rising is about simply rising, dancing, and not staying silent when one billion women around the world are experiencing patriarchal violence.We don't think you need to spend a lot of money to get that message across, so our event will just have the basics:music, dancing, and good, old-fashioned feminist education and consciousness-raising. Individuals who want to get involved should visit the Facebook page.
Although some groups in other cities are planning flash mobs, our event will not be a flash mob.Instead we are hosting a Dance Strike. You don't have to learn the One Billion Rising dance to come.It will be an open dance party for anyone who can dance (or anyone who can't, for that matter).We are simply asking that individuals join us at noon on February 14 on Monument Circle.Dress warm, bring your families, hula hoops, and some dancing shoes.
Julian Center: We are intending to line up on Meridian Street in front of The Julian Center buildings on February 14, 2013 at 3pm. The Julian Center staff, clients, volunteers, friends are rising!! Anyone is welcome to participate. It's a day that we shall all stand together as a community, to speak and dance with one voice, demanding an end to violence against women.
The public are welcome to participate in the dance, or if you're not able to dance, to hold up signs in solidarity! We dance with the nation and we dance with the world to show we are rising against this global problem.
NUVO: Are there places were people are congregating to learn the One Billion Rising dance?
Angela Leisure: People who will be dancing have many links on Youtube to learn the NYC choreography. I know that people are getting together in small groups, and practicing alone. The whole idea isn't to dance just like everyone else, it's to dance, to simply be with members of your community, your family, your area, and say Enough, This has got to stop, We won't hide in silence any longer, together we are stronger and more powerful than we are alone, and we don't have to be alone.
Mary Kate Dugan: We will not be teaching the dance, but we are encouraging people who are attending the event to learn the dance on their own and bring their knowledge to share with the group on V-Day.Here is a video that teaches the dance (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJQvJNfn0kc).
Julian Center: We shall line up on Meridian Street in front of The Julian Center buildings to perform the dance routine to "Break the Chain" song, whichaims to raise awareness around the world about V-Day's fastest-escalating global campaign to date, ONE BILLION RISING.
You can learn the dance routine:
To sign up for "The Julian Center Rises" follow this link.
You can also buy a t-shirt to wear on that day on the following link: http://vday.spreadshirt.com/ .
NUVO: Do you care to offer any personal testimony about why these issues have prompted you to take action?
Angela Leisure: One in three women will be sexually assaulted in their lives — one in three! If you know two other women, and you've never been hurt, it's one of them. We suffer in silence because we've allowed someone else's power, and someone else's idea of shame and blame stop us from speaking.
One in three women is unacceptable, it has got to change. We are not willing to remain Victims forever. I am a Victor, I am still here, I will not be told to sit down and shut up ever again. I am one of the one billion women on the planet who has been assaulted. I don't want my niece to be one of them, I don't want my son to struggle to be with a woman because he has been painted as a potential attacker simply because of his gender.
Strong women, and strong men are speaking up, they are speaking out against the small weak people who have to resort to this kind of pervasive violence to keep women in line, and under control.
The Church Within is hosting the Vagina Monologues this February 21-23. Please Join them in celebrating.
Julian Center: We are taking action because we work with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We are rising because we either know someone we love, a friend, a relative, a neighbor who has been physically, verbally, emotionally, financially and sexually abused. We are rising for ourselves, for those we love, and for those who are still afraid or unable to stand for themselves.
Beacon of Hope: I am a domestic violence survivor and there was a huge need for a organization on the Westside of Indianapolis. I love helping people and working with children.
NUVO: Anything else you care to add about Eve Ensler, V-Day or other related topics? Another way to ask this question: In what ways have you seen the feminist arts community raise public awareness of violence against women issues in the community?
Julian Center: V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works.
In 2012, over 5,800 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $90 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters, and funded over 14,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. Over 300 million people have seen a V-Day benefit event in their community.
Beacon of Hope: A 29-year-old woman who came to the center seeking help from a biological abusive relationship with her dad. She had hoped to reconcile with him but it turned ugly. The woman was depressed, and scared to open up. When she called the center, it was on a day we just happened to have our group counseling. I talked to her for over an hour before our counseling and group started.I finally got her to smile and open up. I shared my story with her. After she came out of group counseling, she was smiling for the first time. Beacon of hope served her for over a year helping to empower her to become self-sufficient. We provided our shelter, clothing, food, counseling and other items. I am thrilled to say, she has become a thriver and a survivor. So much, she goes with me and does speaking engagements with me and shares her story. In March, we have our upcoming evening of Hope and All That Jazz and she will be playing her violin in front of 200 - 250 people while our band is taking its breaks. We call her our "Beacon of Hope Butterfly."
NUVO: Please provide any insight you might have on the ways violence across women cuts across cultures, even locally here in Indy, and how that reflects the global epidemic.
Julian Center: Violence against women cuts across cultures, social and economic backgrounds. At The Julian Center we have this evidenced by the number of survivors who walk through our doors. We have survivors from affluent, not so affluent backgrounds; we have survivors from diverse local and international communities. Violence against women cuts across borders. The One Billion Rising is a testament to that. And that is why we are joining others around the world on February, 14, 2013, saying NO MORE! Demanding an end to violence in our collective strength, our numbers, and our solidarity.
NUVO: Is there anything else you'd like the public to know?
Julian Center: If you are not able to join us at The Julian Center on February 14, 2012 at 3 pm, there is a rising that is taking part at the Monument Circle at 12 noon on the same day.
Take time on that day, to rise in your own way. You can rise alone, with a friend, a group of friends, with others and say NO MORE! 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime!!Let us all RISE, STRIKE and DANCE to demand an end to violence against women and girls.
NUVO: Any local statistics or insight you feel might enrich the story?
Beacon of Hope: Since opening in 2009, we have served over 4,000 women and children. Our job entails helping the woman from the first call or visit and hold their hands to get to the next level.We offer at our non-residential facility, crisis operators fielding the calls coming in, resources such as shelter assistance, clothing, emergency hotel stay, food and transportation.We offer life skills training such as resume writing, dressing for success, computer training and financial budgeting classes.We offer individual and group counseling with our licensed counselor.We offer a very unique foster pet program.One of the leading reasons women do not leave their abuser is because of their pets.