One Billion Rising -- Raksha

2/14/2013 8:30 PM

One Billion Rising -- Raksha

Taking the shame away! The best Valentine’s gift to give.

More than1 in 3 women have experienced sexual assault, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Valentine's Day is one of many good days to think, talk, and resolve about the issues of rape and domestic violence. As Raksha says, there are many ways we as community members can take a stand against domestic and sexual violence in our community. One way is to join the One Billion Rising on Thursday, February 14, 2013. There was one event at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta at noon, but let's think of it as an all day event, wherever we are!

Raksha

“My daughter didn't do anything wrong, she died while protecting herself. I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter.” Badri Singh Pandey

It took so much courage for Mr. Singh Pandey to reveal his daughter’s name. We all know that shame associated with rape, not just in our own community, but throughout the world. For years, in our beloved Bollywood movies, we would see images of father’s killing themselves, disowning their daughters, or finding ways to hide what happened. It is the topic we often don’t want to talk about. Maybe, it is too hard to imagine. Maybe, we just want to think it won’t happen to us. But the reality is domestic and sexual violence happens to us and our fellow community members. It is scary to think of but it does. The reality is that the shame we have created around talking about both domestic violence and sexual violence continues to give abusers more power and keeps the issue kept swept under the rug.

I was talking to a community member about the Delhi rape. While he thought what happened was horrible, he went on to talk about some young women near where he works who behaved badly because they drink and party and flirted with men. I tried to repeat the fact that it still did not mean that it would be okay to rape women. He wanted to go on about how they behaved because they were drunk. Again, I repeated they still do not deserve to be raped and that we do not say the same things about men when they go out, get drunk, and act foolish. He went on to talk about how hard it is for the men around these women to resist then when these women were acting this way. So, should men be raped because they are walking around with little to no clothes on and are drinking? Of course not!

First, this of course is insulting to men to say they have no intelligence and self-control and that they can’t resist a woman based on how she is dressed or if she had a little too much to drink. Second, no one deserves to be raped. We as a community need to re-examine our assumptions. Do we blame a man who was robbed for wearing too much gold, or having a wallet full of money? Do we blame a family for their home invasion because they kept jewelry in their home or because they have a nice home? Do we blame a person who was hit by a drunk driver for being out on the road? Yet, all too often we are blaming women when they are raped or beaten by their husband or boyfriend.

Here is the reality, no one wants to be raped or beaten. No one wants to be a victim and deal with the community response when one comes forward. A survivor of domestic violence read this quote at the capitol last week and it resonated with me – trying to explain how hard it is to come forward. “VICTIM: Who wants to be known as a victim of Domestic Violence? Who wants to tell about abuse that they’ve endured & rather soon be over & forget about…or so they think? That’s not a title I ever wanted to hold. For too many, this reigning title renders one as an outcast; stigmatized by the community as being weak, poor, uneducated, accused of playing victim, and more. Or worst yet…saying, you’ve asked for it.”

I ask that as a community we work to take the stigma away from community members coming forward. If you want to learn how to do that or want to talk more about it, contact us or call us at 404-876-0670. We should work to make our communities safer for our loved ones. Wouldn’t that be the best Valentine’s gift to give?

There are many ways we as community members can take a stand against based domestic and sexual violence in our community. One way is to join the One Billion Rising on Thursday, February 14, 2013.

*** Raksha, Inc. would like to be mindful of emotional stress that might be brought up amongst survivors in the South Asian community, here in Georgia, with the recent attention to the rape of the 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey. This unfortunate incident could bring up wounds that survivors in our communities are trying to forget and heal from. Raksha, Inc. would like to make its services available to those who are seeking assistance around emotional stress that is arising due to the attention to the case in our communities and the media. If you are finding yourself being preoccupied with the thoughts of sexual abuse or trauma that you have suffered, please contact Raksha, Inc. for the therapeutic services offered at no cost to the survivors. Raksha, Inc. is offering group therapy and individual therapy to survivors to assist with working through the traumatic events and reaching a more peaceful state of mind. For further information, please contact Raksha, Inc. at 404-876-0670. If you need 24 hour assistance, National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE(4673) or you could locate a rape crisis center near you.

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