Naperville Indian dance event to support 'innate value' of victims of sexual abuse

Updated 9/3/2019 3:54 PM

The two passions to which Dr. Sangita Rangala devotes her life seem unrelated.

But a common thread unites her work providing medical care for childhood victims of sexual abuse and her artistic pursuit of classical Indian dance. That thread, she says, is the inner value that's present in each of us.


"The purpose of classical art in India, from ancient times, was to serve as a vehicle for personal and spiritual growth. The idea is you find your innate value, you celebrate it, nurture it and share it with the world, so we see what is of value or divine or good or sacred in everything," Rangala said. "That's kind of what we do in the Care Center."

The Care Center is a service at Edward Hospital in Naperville, which Rangala runs as its only physician. On call 24 hours for the past 18 years, she provides medical assessments, collects evidence and refers children who have been sexually abused to the continuing mental and physical help they'll need to recover.

The center serves a nine-county area and takes cases from the FBI, military bases and the Department of Homeland Security as well as local police departments and sheriff's offices.

For a long time, Rangala said, she has wanted to bring together her passion for dance and her work helping children find recovery from sexual abuse. The right time is now, she said, because of a state law change that soon could bring even more children who have been abused to the Care Center in need of help.

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The Care Center needs to raise $130,000 to prepare for an expansion of the Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act, which will go into effect by 2022, Rangala said.

The law says hospitals must provide sexual abuse examinations by one of three types of qualified personnel -- a sexual abuse nurse examiner, a child abuse pediatrician or a sexual abuse forensic examiner -- or set up a transfer agreement with a hospital that can complete the exams.

The Care Center wants to train between 15 and 20 sexual abuse nurse examiners to help prepare for an influx of cases it expects to see because many other hospitals do not provide these examinations for children, Rangala said.

"What we really want is to be able to absolutely ensure high-quality care 24 hours a day, without question," she said.

A fundraiser featuring Indian dance will help the Edward Foundation generate the money to do so. Rangala and Anand Dance are producing a show called "Sacred," set for 2:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, at Pfeiffer Hall on the campus of North Central College, 30 N. Brainard St., Naperville.


The event, featuring a live orchestra, aims to draw together a broad community of dancers, artists, children's advocates, medical professionals and law enforcement authorities to celebrate "kids who have survived horrible things," Rangala said.

"They are just higher-level souls," she said.

Tickets are $15 for students and $25, $50 or $100 for various seating options for the public. Tickets are at or (630) 527-3954 until Friday, Sept. 6, and also will be sold at the door.

The show will feature original pieces with words translated into Sanskrit played on ancient Indian drums, stringed instruments, percussion and a wooden flute. Eight dancers will move in a traditional Indian style.

"It's not like Bollywood -- it's more like yoga," Rangala said. "It's a very spiritual approach to art."

And it mirrors the approach Rangala puts into her work comforting children who have been abused and reminding them of their innate value.

"When we wake them up to that idea that, 'There's something amazing in you, that you're not less than -- you're actually a hero or a star because had the strength to speak the truth and come forward,' then they just do awesome," she said. "There's just no stopping them after that."

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