One Billion Rising to dance for justice Valentine’s Day
February 13, 2014
On Valentine's Day last year, over 1,000 people danced in the streets to end violence against women and children, among an estimated one billion people in tens of thousands of events in 207 countries. The following are my words and do not necessarily reflect the views of other organizers of One Billion Rising.
The theme for One Billion Rising this year is justice. Consider the many definitions of justice: an acknowledgment of hurt against another, commitment to not perpetrate again, with amends made where possible. Justice loses power and integrity when it is based in punishment and loses sight of what best supports healing and reconciliation.
Incongruous examples: Too many women go to jail for finally fighting back, whereas mere probation serves as "justice" for many child molesters in our county. While locking people up doesn't address the problem, it may allow time for a victim to heal, away from the perpetrator.
One in three women and one in six men report having been beaten or raped in their lifetime. It is estimated that less than half report it. Most who have been a victim of violence either become a victim again or a perpetrator, and nearly every one develops an addiction to escape. Those that never speak about it, whether from shame or lack of access to resources, have almost no chance of escaping the cycle. Depression, drug addiction, suicide, prostitution and stealing are all symptoms of a common cause.
Healing is revealing. It’s letting secrets air in the light of day so they don’t twist and cut below the surface, driving mental and physical disease deeper into each individual, and collectively as a community.
There is an invisible triangle between jails, shelters (when people can be sober) and homeless camps (when not.) I met one woman who has been in jail 66 times in the last six years, and otherwise circulated between Hospitality House and camp. Every woman I met who has been there was a victim of violence as a child. Other than one weekly Alcoholics Anonymous group, there are no resources for addicts to be "corrected" in our correctional facility.
Recognizing the 70 percent incarceration recidivism rate, it seems that teaching self-care skills, addiction intervention, treatment for trauma recovery, and employment training are essential to help break this cycle, while they have no access to substances.
Let training enable inmates to be self-sustaining when they get out. The healing aspect of justice would involve supplying self-help books in jail, for those brave enough to pick one up. Therapists, art therapy and writing groups help people look deeper, and allow themselves to feel what they are trying to escape, in a safe space, free of judgment.
Yoga and meditation would help the therapy and healing be more embodied, thus make the changes more lasting.
Gabor Mate writes in his book, "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts", about being an M.D. in Vancouver, at a home for those who would otherwise be homeless, where sobriety is not required to have shelter, and residents are given medically supervised lower dosages to wean them off drugs sustainably.
He writes of a process, which is basically meditation, that helps his clients become self-sustaining. Harm reduction groups connect with those not ready to stop their active addiction. If people are required to be sober to have shelter, we see how many go cold and sometimes die.
If a solution is to be found, it would be to find a way to channel some state or grant funds to support a halfway house of some sort, not run by people donating their time. Until this happens, these people will continue to fall through the cracks and be blamed for their own misfortune.
Healing is revealing. It's letting secrets air in the light of day so they don't twist and cut below the surface, driving mental and physical disease deeper into each individual, and collectively as a community.
It does take a village — to connect the dots of violence, trauma and addiction recovery, resources for our homeless, the justice system and correctional facility. One Billion Rising is an event that could begin to link them in our community's awareness, and eventually funding.
Please join the billion- plus people all over the world dancing in the streets this Valentine's Day.
We will be gathering at the courthouse steps at 5:15 p.m. We will dance up Broad Street to the Nevada City Winery for a short reception until 7.
Come to Cafe Mekka until roughly 8 p.m. to learn more about resources like CORR, Common Goals, The Grandmother Pledge, Prison Wings, Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County, Sierra Roots, therapists and Men Against Violence.
Skye Myers lives in North San Juan.