My vision of revolution is to see a world where young girls grow up to feel empowered by their intelligence, their sexuality, their goals and their achievements. I want women in leadership roles, I want women engaging in activism, I want women role models. I envision a world where there is an open dialogue amongst men and women about how violence impacts everyone and what we can do to incite a change. Violence, abuse and rape is not a women’s issue. It is a human issue. And until we can rise together for a change, I am afraid I will never see that vision I dream of.
Growing up as a woman of color in a predominately white community, it was hard for me to comprehend the privilege I had in a well established family yet the dissonance I felt with my peers due to my gender and my race. At a young age, I had fallen victim to sexual assault. I struggled alone for many years trying to make sense of what I was feeling and the experiences I had due to my environment.
When I started university, I joined a sorority because I liked the idea of being a part of an organization full of women who want to make a change in young girls’ lives. During my first quarter as a sister, my sorority played this game called “Stand on the Line” where we would ask questions ranging from our favorite colors to whether we knew anyone who was in jail. I was surprised when nearly a third of my sorority stood on the line when the issue of rape was brought up. For the first time ever, I broke down with tears streaming down my face while recounting what had happened to me. This created a heartbreaking conversation within my sorority about the different forms of abuse we had been through. After that conversation, I realized that I had an amazing support system and a platform for change. I became involved in women’s centers in the community and multiple organizations centered around women and girls.
The biggest lesson I have learned is that you are not defined by the things that have happened to you or your current circumstance, instead you are defined by the choices you make to help create change for whatever it is you care about. I care about the safety and future of women in the world, and I think that spreading awareness through campaigns like One Billion Rising is the first step. I hope you reach out in your community and stand with the one billion women who need your support.