It almost killed Vicki Rae Thorne to keep her sexual assault a secret from all but a few people for 40 years, she says.
Thorne, of Sleepy Hollow, is among the organizers of "The Long Red Line" event Friday in Elgin. Its goal is to bring awareness to all forms of violence against women. The event is held in conjunction with One Billion Rising events over the world.
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Thorne wants to help other women find the courage to talk about their experiences, after the first One Billion Rising event last year inspired her, she said.
"In the summer of 2012, I was in a really dark place. Until I broke my silence, I felt like an island," she said.
"Now, I feel fantastic. I feel taller, I feel more confident. I feel more like me than I've felt in a very, very long time."
People are asked to bring a red cloth, such as a scarf, to form a line stretching from the library as far as it can go, said Carolyn Clark, sexual assault program coordinator at the Community Crisis Center.
Sponsors include the 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.
This year's theme is "rising for justice," Clark said.
"We'll have resources, sheets to hand out, so people know who they can call for help," she said. "Anybody could come and learn something."
The event is from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Gail Borden Public Library at 270 N. Grove Ave. in Elgin
A gathering at 4:30 p.m. inside the library will include hot chocolate; speakers include Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda, Community Crisis Center Executive Director Gretchen Vapnar and survivors of violence.
Thorne has crocheted a red scarf more than 15 feet long, with different sections representing such groups as young girls who were victims of sexual assault and older women whose secrets are buried deep within.
"We're hoping to bring greater awareness to our communities about the degree of assault that happens in our culture," she said. "We're going to be standing in silence -- chosen silence -- in solidarity in a safe and sturdy line for each other."