SALT LAKE CITY — Activists shuffled their feet and took a stand against violence toward women.
V-Day, a worldwide women's rights activist organization, partnered with several Utah organizations Thursday for flash mobs, dancing and speeches aimed to raise awareness about violence.
The group joined the Domestic Violence Council, Women of the World, University of Utah Women's Resource Center and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault for demonstrations at the state Capitol, the U. campus and IKEA in Draper.
“Today we make a statement for people that have suffered in silence,” said University of Utah Dean of Students Annie Christensen, speaking to an audience at the school’s library plaza. “For people who have believed nobody is listening, we break the silence and … tell you that you are not alone. None of us are alone.”
"It's really encouraging seeing the support coming from so many angles,” said Ruth Arevalo, who coordinated the events. “It's about empowering women, yes, but it's about empowering the community. It's shifting the paradigm and getting everyone involved.”
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that nearly one-third of female homicide victims in the United States are killed by an intimate partner, and less than one-fifth of domestic violence victims seek medical treatment for the injuries they sustain.
V-Day named its campaign One Billion Rising this year as a tribute to their estimation that about one in three women across the world will be beaten or raped in her lifetime.
In its most recent statistics, the Utah Domestic Violence Council reports that 3,751 domestic violence criminal charges were filed between July 2010 and June 2011, and 28 domestic violence-related deaths were reported statewide during that time.
Debra Daniels, the director of the Women's Resource Center at the University of Utah, said that despite the concerted effort worldwide, violence toward women is not a problem frequently addressed in everyday conversation.
“I think we have a hard time talking about hard things,” Daniels said. “That's one of the mechanisms that perpetuates the violence, by saying it didn't happen and protecting those who seem to be nice people and ignoring those people who have been so deeply wounded.”
Dacia Holliday is a volunteer with the center and a victim of domestic and sexual abuse. She told listeners at the University of Utah that her healing would have been impossible without a support network.
“Maybe what I have to say to today is what someone needed to hear, because we never heal alone,” Holliday said. “Healing is communal. Healing is community work. … We can do better. I know it and I just won't let it go. It’s time we seek justice for those who didn’t survive.”