What is the most important thing in your life? Your job? Your house? Your money? For me, the answer is very simple. Family. I am blessed to have a beautiful wife and two amazing daughters for which to share my life. Their unconditional love and support fills my heart with joy each and every day. They are the light in a world of darkness. They are the wind in the sail that powers the boat of life. They are my priority. They are my world. Take a look at my beautiful ladies. Gorgeous aren’t they?
Okay, now that you have the image of them in front of you and in your mind, let’s talk about the brutal facts. Did you know that one in three women on earth will be a victim of violence? ONE in THREE. It is true. One in three women will be raped or beaten at some point in her lifetime. This statistic seems unrealistic and unbelievable, but it is a fact. As a husband and a father, this statistic is extremely scary and very real. One of my three ladies will be a victim at some point. How does that make you feel? Does it make you uncomfortable? Close your eyes and replace the photo with one filled with three important women in your life. How does that make you feel? If you are like me, it makes you uneasy, sick, and furious. The images and the thoughts of this happening to my family are unpleasant, unimaginable, and unacceptable. So what do we do? Sit around and let this violence towards women continue? Wait for someone else to take action and make changes? Absolutely not! I refuse to stand by and watch those I care about become victims. I could not, and will not, live knowing that I could have done more. My eyes have been opened to violence against women. I must now do more to use my voice.
Our week 70 volunteer experience was my first step in helping to speak up and out about violence towards women. I “walked a mile in her shoes” by putting on a pair of high-heels and strutting my stuff to create community awareness. It was a life-changing (and painful) experience. One that I will never forget. You can read more about that experience here. This week, I had the opportunity to take another step in my efforts to become a stronger voice in the fight against abuse towards women. This week I had the opportunity to rise up, dance, and demand an end to this violence by participating in V-Day’s One Billion Rising. V-Day is a global movement to end violence towards girls and women. They create events to increase awareness, educate, and raise funds for the fight to stop rape, battery, incest, and sex slavery. In 2012, almost 6000 benefit events took place across the globe. The V-Day movement has spread rapidly through the world reaching over 160 countries and raising over 90 million dollars in fourteen years. In celebration of its fifteenth anniversary, V-Day launched its One Billion Rising initiative on Valentine’s Day. One in three women will be a victim which means one billion will be impacted on our planet. The goal on Valentine’s Day was to get one billion women, and men, to rise up in dance and speak out against violence towards women.
The One Billion Rising Fort Wayne event took place at Parkview Field in downtown Fort Wayne. Hundreds of people gathered at lunchtime to dance, speak out against violence, and have a good time. That is exactly what happened. I danced (if that is what you call it) and clapped with my community. I had a great time. It was great to see so many people come together to form one voice that said NO to violence. We must continue this conversation. We must talk about rape and violence towards women. Speaking out helps to encourage victims to speak up. I have experienced this first hand. After writing my previous posts about this topic, I received emails from victims who expressed their gratitude for me writing my words. Our words and our voice can have an impact. We must ALL become advocates. We ALL must accept the responsibility. We ALL must rise up to end violence against women!