ONE BILLION RISING--I hear a woman screaming in the night. Do you?
I hear a woman screaming in the night and I am going to do everything within my power to make certain that every woman’s scream is heard through eternity.
Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, started One Billion Rising so that all women in every country of our globe will rise together shouting, “No More, No More.” And I have proudly joined them.
This new movement is called One Billion Rising in reference to the shocking statistic that one in three women on earth — a total of one billion — will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. I must repeat that statistic for my mind to really take it in: One in three women on earth will be raped or beaten during their lifetimes.
Actress Jane Fonda, along with many other celebrities, joined forces with One Billion Rising. Fonda publicly shared that her mother was sexually abused as a child, which was the reason she committed suicide at the age of 44. She went on to tell the story of her grandmother being abused.
I have personally experienced rape and at the time it happened, I decided to sue. I was not doing it for monetary rewards, but instead to get it on the law books one more time: Don’t touch our bodies without permission.
Alone, on foot, without much money, two years later I found an attorney who didn’t slam the door in my face after hearing the word “rape.” Two years!
I was told it was too soon to sue over such a thing as rape. The attorneys threatened that I would end up being made the criminal if my case ever got to court.
The police asked me if I was a prostitute. And the rapist proudly said he hoped he had made babies in my tummy as he patted it. Then he offered me money, saying he knew that women of the night like me were always in need of cash.
I had just returned from Harlem, New York City, writing for the newspaper about my volunteer experience with homeless women and children at Mother Teresa’s shelter.
No, I told the police, I was not a prostitute. They informed me they would have to put my case on the back burner as they were dealing with another rapist on the loose who was attacking elderly women. But, they added, they would be happy to give me a ride to the emergency room for me to have “the rape test.”
A male police officer drove me to the hospital. As I sat in the backseat of the squad car, tears streamed down my cheeks as I felt I could hear and feel every woman on the earth who had been raped — their fears, anger and pain. And I could hear my own heart silently screaming that this was all a bad dream.
I felt I would wake up tomorrow and it would be all gone. But it wasn’t over and wouldn’t be, as long as one woman was being raped, beaten and murdered. It would never be “all gone” until that day came.
After all, I had just returned from Harlem, writing articles for a newspaper about the rewards of volunteering for homeless women and children. So, I wasn’t bad, or was I? How many times had I heard that everything that happened to us was caused by “karma” and that bad things only happen because we choose them to? Oh, my God. The more I tried to rationalize, the harder it became for me to control my emotions, and controlling my emotions was all I had left at that moment.
The humiliating questions and medical procedures made the whole thing feel like I was playing a role in a surrealistic nightmare. The police had already informed me that my case was being put on hold in order for them to concentrate on the rash of violent rapes of elderly women.
I was torn between wanting to believe everything would be all right if the whole world would just overcome hatred with love, and yet also feeling glad that the person that threatened to bash my head against the concrete if I dared struggle would also be subjected to painfully humiliating tests and police interrogation.
I chose to not choose which path to take, but instead to breathe deeply and think about the next painting I would do.
Yes, even at the most absurd moments, my painting burst into the light and all else seemed insignificant from that moment on. The following day, I bought a canvas and paints and for the first time in my life, I painted with oils. Before the rape, I was afraid to even try them. Since the rape had painfully reminded me that every second could be my last, fear became history in my life.
My first oil painting on canvas was born: “Two Tears for the Joy and Sorrow of Living Life.” Being so close to death had lit a blazing fire in my soul, bringing forth life in a painting that took my breath away. There was a tear in the corner of each eye. The painting was a portrait of me, of all women on earth.
I did win the lawsuit for every silenced voice of women throughout history.
Civil rights attorney Gloria Allred was a guest on The Judy Joy Jones Show, a radio show I used to do. She bravely told the audience she was raped at gunpoint and is now giving her life to make certain that you, I, our daughters, mothers and sisters are never beaten, raped or murdered again. The rape was the catalyst which transformed Ms. Allred’s genius for our freedom.
Watching the women of India join forces for One Billion Rising this year on February 14, I wept as they shouted: “No More, No More.” For all the women’s voices silenced by rape and murder, we are their voice and have chosen to never again remain silent.
When Women Rise, Mountains Move
We carry the torch for the women who went before us, whose lives were taken at the hands of an abuser. We will never again choose silence and fear, but instead will celebrate together by rising in song and dance. The time is now for circling the globe with our arms, hearts and spirit souls.
I am especially touched by the men that are joining forces with women to celebrate our newly found voices. We truly are One Billion Rising.
Thank you, Eve Ensler, for speaking up and speaking out, which empowered me to do the same. And thanks to women everywhere who are continuing the journey to freedom. We are almost home.
I see the top of the mountain, and the time for dancing for joy is now! We shall never again have to scream in the night because our voices have risen together as one! Our voices have risen.
(Judy Joy Jones blogs on Street Spirit where this piece originated. She is a writer and an artist.)