This past year I have been reading stories of activism communities all over the world about interpersonal violence, rape, stalking and trafficking. The stories have similarities in the focus of gendered violence against women and transgender identified persons. The responses have been as varied as the incidents… ranging from art-based responses (Graffiti Artists), technology-based responses (Callisto: A college sexual assault reporting system), social media, (It’s On Us), journalistic responses (The Rapist Next Door), media literacy (FAAN MAIL), films (The Hunting Ground), songs (Till It Happens to You) and marching in the streets. Through the use of technology, global conversations using social media are taking place, uniting people from all over the world to join local activists attempting to make change in their communities.
For the first time ever, the conversation about rape and interpersonal violence is being held everywhere. And it’s not stopping when the Twitter chat dies out or the art exhibit is taken down. Now these conversations move rapidly from speaking out, educating the public, identifying changes needed and developing policy to improve resources, laws and funds. The conversation sparks from survivors taking agency to speak out about abuse and then moves to activism and direct action. Gone are the days where it would take years to build momentum, now it takes hours for the momentum of people engaging to reach its peak and change can be put forth within months.
This is where local centers with their community response and activism are impactful collaborators with survivors bringing their story out and helping create the changes in policy, laws and funds to work toward ending interpersonal violence, rape, stalking and harassment. A prime example here in Virginia this past, is the collaboration between survivors of rape at University of Virginia, local rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters, the Action Alliance and legislators to take the problem of rape on campus and create significant changes to laws and resources for students. Other universities joined in to show their support and help advocate, local centers around the state helped outreach their legislators to advocate and individual supporters lent their voice through social media and calls. The combined efforts of these parties kept the conversation alive and the work progressing.
This is the power of community activism and the joint efforts of survivors and families, ally’s in the communities, activists with local centers, and state coalitions like the Action Alliance. This synergy can only happen with everyone involved. We must work together to keep these conversations active in order to make the change needed.
To get involved in the issues being presented in the general assembly this year, click here to see bills being presented for the 2016 General Assembly, click here to see how you can be involved and how to communicate with your delegates and representatives, and click here to join a committee of the Action Alliance. At the Action Alliance, you can get involved in policy work, fund development, and leadership. Whatever your skill or interest is: communicating with legislators to lobby for policy change or increase in funds, being a social media activist and sharing information to bring information to the public, being an educator to local centers and allied partners to improve training, or to help raise funds in your community; you are needed.
Carol Olson is the Development Director at the Action Alliance. She was previously the Director of a local rape crisis center. She has continued to engage in community activism through her work with the Alliance and through radio at WRIR 97.3 FM.
SAVE THE DATE: LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY DAY
January 27, 2016 – 7:30am John Marshall Ballrooms, Richmond
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