As a survivor leader committed to ending violence against women, there are days when my work hits too close to home. Most days I can muster the strength to speak out against rape, domestic violence, emotional abuse, human trafficking, sexual harassment, and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence. But other times it all gets to be too much, and I want nothing more than to just curl up into a ball and sink into myself.
And yet, with the help of others, I rise because silence is no longer an option for me. And I take heart knowing that I’m not alone in this journey.
Over the last few years, a global movement called One Billion Rising has taken root in every corner of the world to call for a revolutionary end to violence against women. Survivors, people of faith, women, youth, and men alike have responded to the call and are breaking the oppressive silence around sexual and gender-based violence.
Whether you’re intimately involved in this struggle or just getting started, there is a place for you. Rise up and put your faith into action to end violence against women. Here are 7 ways to join the revolution.
1. Learn the Facts
- Action: Be informed – check out the following resources. Educate yourself and your community about sexual and gender-based violence in all its forms.
- Prayer: Tender God, who gives us breath and gathers us under your wing, we come to You as a bruised and battered people. What happens to one part of the Body affects the whole Body. Open our eyes that we may see what some prefer to keep hidden from view. Teach us to shout aloud Your word of justice that we might disrupt the violence of injustice. Make us courageous to act for those who are immobilized by fear until they can act on their own behalf. Amen. — Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners Senior Associate Editor
2. Listen to Survivors
- Action: The voices of survivors must inform all our actions. Listen to their stories and include them in shaping policies and practices that address violence against women. Above all, support and believe survivors.
- Prayer: Trafficked and abused God, when did we see You and turn away? When did we hear You and turn the volume up on some other distraction? When did we listen to You, but doubted Your word? When did we hear Your story second-hand and assumed “it was all your fault”? Whenever we did these things to even one of Your children, we did them to You. Amen. — Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners Senior Associate Editor
3. Remember Marginalized Voices
- Action: Women of color, indigenous women, lesbians and transwomen, and other marginalized voices are often silenced or forgotten in conversations about gender-based violence. Deepen your understanding of intersectionality and how various forms of oppression impact women and girls on the margins.
- Prayer: Sister God: They call it the field of calzon, the field of panties, because so many rapes happen there. From a place beyond the lights, O God, he yelled at her: “Whore!” And mimed a woman kneeling, hands lifted to her face. We pray, Sister God, Mother God, Brother God, that truth, crushed to earth, shall indeed rise again. Amen. — Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners Senior Associate Editor
4. Engage Men
- Action: While men are undoubtedly impacted by sexual and gender-based violence, women and girls are disproportionately affected at alarming rates . Encourage the men in your lives to step up and speak out for and with women to break the cycle of abuse together.
- Prayer: Loving God, we pray that your people love and respect women as much as you do. We pray for an end to gender violence, gender binaries, and gender inequalities. For a masculinity that gives space for both great strength and expressed emotion. For men who listen as often as they speak, and women who speak up as well as they listen. We pray for a holy alliance of women and men, advocating side-by-side for your loving justice. Amen. — Jenna Barnett, former Sojourners Editorial Assistant
5. Collaborate with Others
- Action: We can’t do this work alone. Partner with local, regional, national, and international organizations to maximize your reach and impact. Get to know the experts, practitioners, and resource providers in your area for further support.
- Prayer: Creator God, we acknowledge that we need you. We ask that you provide a community of people who help protect and act for the emotional and physical wellbeing of those who are abused. Just as Christ did not work alone to proclaim your good news, we ask that your people will work together to end the senseless violence. Create in us a spirit of cooperation that we may support and serve one another in this work. — George Lee, Sojourners’ Manager of Planned Giving
6. Raise Your Voice
- Action: Add your voice to the growing movement of people of faith speaking out against sexual and gender-based violence. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, call your members of Congress, and/or use social media to spread the word that violence against women will not be tolerated.
- Prayer: Merciful God, we confess to you that it easy to look at this issue and disconnect. We confess that we convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do. Please strike that lie from our hearts. Give us the courage to map out the amazing amounts of resources that we have to make a difference at least in one life. Oh God, it is so easy to disconnect – and we ask for your forgiveness. — George Lee, Sojourners’ Manager of Planned Giving
7. Commit for the Long Haul
- Action: Continue to raise awareness and advocate for an end to sexual and gender-based violence. Stay informed. Remain in solidarity. And above all, pray without ceasing.
- Prayer: Steadfast God, you know the struggle to end violence against women is hard. May your Holy Spirit embolden us when we are tired, when we are weak, when we are scared, when we’ve fought too long and too hard, and when we’re ready to retire the fight completely. God, we need the wisdom of the old and the passion of the young. Do not abandon us. Walk with us, now and always. Amen. — Ryan Stewart, Sojourners’ Audience Engagement Associate