One in three women — according to statistics from the United Nations — will at some point become a victim of violence. Even sadder, a number of these attacks are visited upon women by people they know who beat, assault, rape and kill them.
In the last few weeks, we’ve heard numerous jokes about Chris Brown and Rihanna, as well as a multitude of stories involving high-profile cases of relationships gone wrong, from athletes to actors.
While some laugh and others shake their heads in disbelief, domestic abuse isn’t funny or a crime that spares people based on ZIP code, education, income or race.
From Dallas to Denmark, from Indianapolis to India, a billion women worldwide are expected to become shattered members of a sorority that should have humanity in an uproar. The majority of them will not make the front page or be written about beyond police reports.
One Billion Rising, which takes its name from the U.N. prediction, is an international initiative designed to empower women and let us step up to say we’ve had enough. I absolutely love this mission because it allows women all over the world to be remembered locally but supported globally, by a network of people who refuse to let them suffer in silence.
The One Billion Rising campaign is one of the best uses of social media in recent memory. It connects women and countries by encouraging them to read each other’s stories and stand together.
I don’t personally know Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, but I appreciate his determination to reach out to a smaller number, asking men to step up, too. Like the One Billion Rising movement, Rawlings has taken to both traditional and social media with stories and a website, dallasmenagainstabuse.com. He hopes to get 10,000 men to rally in solidarity with us on Saturday, March 23.
Statistics in our own back yard offer real evidence that there is an urgent need for men to join our cause. Already, there have been 12 domestic violence deaths in Dallas since December, the bulk of them caused by males attacking females. Last year, Dallas had 26 domestic slayings, which was a big jump from the previous year’s 10. If Rawlings makes good on a promise to reactivate a city task force devoted to domestic violence, he can help make sure 2013 is not another banner year for domestic violence cases in Dallas.
More awareness of warning signs is a step in the right direction. And safe environments, even temporary ones, can buy time when investigators are doing their best to establish evidence of domestic abuse and locate family services.
A few months back, the city kicked off a pilot partnership between Dallas police and shelters that allows officers who respond to domestic abuse calls to ask questions designed to provide clues to risk factors for fatal attacks. In just 90 days, there have been more than 1,000 referrals.
Not that long ago, Dallas ranked as America’s most dangerous city. Law enforcement, elected officials, proud residents and justice lovers worked together to help lower crime. Now, those same groups can unite for the women they care about, showing the rest of the country ways to protect, value and nurture women.
I see the Dallas “Men Against Abuse” rally as a model for other cities. Like the mayor, I’m hoping at least 10,000 good men sign up and show up.
But it sure would be inspiring if countless others take a stand for us every day.