On Valentine's Day, you can show your love and support for the one in three women victimized by rape and other forms of violence by joining the global event One Billion Rising for Justice. The event is an extension of a global campaign created in 2013 when one billion people in 207 countries came together to bring awareness and call for action to end violence against women and girls. When people speak out, justice begins.
The event in Elgin has been named The Long Red Line, created by people holding red scarves, standing in strength and solidarity for justice. The event will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin. Free parking is available at the library.
People have been making scarves for The Long Red Line since last fall. Vicki Rae Thorne of Sleepy Hollow was inspired to start her scarf after hearing that a young girl learned how to knit so she could contribute to The Long Red Line to help children and their moms know how to stay safe. Thorne crocheted a red scarf over 15-feet long in honor of women who have been assaulted physically, sexually or verbally.
"The scarf holds memories of women, including myself, who were not comfortable speaking out for a variety of reasons -- because it just wasn't talked about, because the community and the courts would have persecuted them, because their lives were threatened by the assailants, because their families didn't believe them."
Tiffany Gonzalez of Elgin is joining The Long Red Line to encourage other women to fight for justice. Gonzalez shared, "Three years ago, I finally found the courage to report sexual misconduct by a doctor. One of the investigators made me feel like I'd done something wrong, because he didn't understand how afraid and alone I felt. I'm not angry with the police, but I want my situation to be a reminder that women need compassion from them."
Gonzalez continued, "When the doctor's word was believed over mine, I went to the medical boards in both states he was practicing. There was enough evidence to have his licenses removed. I'm stronger for it, and I won't give up trying to help other women be safe from people like him. We have to speak up, because if someone hurts us, they're bound to hurt another."
Thorne has seen attitudes change slowly over time, including a trend away from blaming the victim, creating an atmosphere that is safer for women to speak out, be believed, and start to heal. "I've seen that justice is served by support systems, whether legal, medical, social or personal, and it's sometimes difficult to recognize who you can trust. If people don't believe you -- whether it's about the assault or what triggers you or how you feel -- they are not part of your support system."
Elgin resident Pat Nelson, a longtime community volunteer in a number of organizations, feels The Long Red Line is a good event to bring awareness to communities.
"When you have eight granddaughters, one grandson and two great-grandsons, it feels as though you must keep an eye on what the heck the world is doing. I'm happy to be able to share solidarity with others to insist on peace, fairness, opportunity and safety for all women and their children, everywhere, on our planet."
Sponsors of The Long Red Line are the Community Crisis Center, League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice, Coalition of Elgin Religious Leaders and the Elgin YWCA.
For more information on the event, visit the One Billion Rising website, www.onebillionrising.org, or The Long Red Line Facebook page, or contact Carolyn Clark at the Community Crisis Center at (847) 742-4088, ext. 140.