Bergen Aldahir, Partnership for Families, Children and Adults
It isn't something many people think about on a daily basis, if at all. It’s rarely talked about and even more rarely witnessed. But it’s alive and thriving in our hometown and its ramifications reverberate through every aspect of our community. It manifests as drug addiction, homelessness and high school dropouts. It rears its ugly head on campus, at home, and in the work place. It lives in every zip code and exists within every race, class, gender and age group.
This nasty ‘it’ is domestic violence and sexual assault.
Did you know that in America, a woman is statistically safer on a dark street alone at night than at home with her husband or partner?
Did you know that out of every 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free?
Domestic and sexual violence are two of the most hidden, under-reported and under-convicted crimes in our nation. This type of violence flourishes from secrecy, shame and guilt survivors unjustly feel as a result of their assault. But talking about sexual assault and domestic violence can be very difficult, which perpetuates the problem. The lack of awareness surrounding this form of brutality paves the way for repeat offenders, misinformed justice systems and victims unaware of their resources.
1 in 3 hearing women and 1 in 2 deaf and hard of hearing women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. Globally, that’s a total of one billion women and girls.
As a community, we must to do better.
But, we cannot end this epidemic until we find a way to make heavy, difficult topics like gender-based violence more easily conversational. After all, we can’t stop a problem people don’t recognize.
Cue One Billion Rising.
One Billion Rising is the largest global initiative to end violence against women in human history. Founded in 2012, the event has grown larger and stronger every year. Here’s how it works: on Valentine’s Day, millions of people from more than 200 countries gather in their communities to dance in solidarity as a means of raising awareness on the issue of violence against women.
Partnership is throwing Chattanooga’s first Rising with a mid-day dance party on the lawn of Bessie Smith Cultural Center on Tuesday, February 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (inside in the event of inclement weather). The party features live music from the Joey Winslett Band and tasty food and drinks from Grilled Cheese Emergency and Plus Coffee. Brewer Media, iHeartRadio and WDEF Radio will all be live on the lawn to play Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT at noon. Additionally, US Senator Bob Corker and Mayors Andy Berke and Jim Coppinger will address the crowd (Senator Corker via video) on ways we can end violence in our own community. The event is free to the public, and you can register here.
Partnership for Families, Children and Adults operates the only rape crisis center and domestic violence shelter for Hamilton and Marion Counties. Tennessee ranks within the top ten states in the nation for homicide as a result of domestic violence. Tennessee is divided into 95 counties with a total of 37 domestic violence shelters- including Partnership’s.