By Jimmie Ferguson
Killeen Daily Herald
Neteka Haywood and Shannon Miller shared some vivid stories about domestic violence during a gathering early last week at Central Texas College.
Haywood, 31, of Killeen said she was there because of her 26-year-old sister-in-law who was killed in 2000, a victim of domestic violence.
Miller, 25, of Killeen was in tears as she described her 22-year-old sister, who had a baby by a man who beat her and the baby. She said it reminded her of seeing her stepfather beat her mother.
Their stories illustrated why an effort was started to "Take Back the Night."
Some people say the effort started in Belgium. Others argue that it was in England, and some say Germany.
"We know it started someplace in Europe in 1976, and tonight, it's the first time ever that we have had it in Central Texas," said Geniece Brandes-Daunis, referring to a program initiated by a group of women to protest the fear and violence they encountered walking the streets at night.
The event was held Tuesday evening at Central Texas College, where nearly 50 men, women and children assembled to learn about fighting domestic violence.
"Today the event is international, and communities all across the world gather together in April to protest the violence and fear that too many victims and survivors have encountered," said Brandes-Daunis, a member of the CTC Multicultural Committee that hosted the program.
"What we must remember is that this rally and march began not as an anti-male campaign, but as a protest against the violence and fear women encounter while walking the streets alone at night or in their homes," she said.
Brandes-Daunis said it is clear that most men do not have the same fears of the night that women do. Most men will never experience what it is like to walk to their car holding a key ready as a weapon. Most men do not fearfully glance behind as they are walking or wait long enough for their male friends to get safely locked in their cars before leaving themselves.
"All of these things are a daily reality in a woman's world," Brandes-Daunis said.
"Nonetheless, it is imperative that men are involved in this rally and march. Men and boys are victims of sexual and domestic violence, and their voices are just as silenced as female victims. Men are also fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, neighbors and partners to women and girls.
"For that reason alone, they should be included in this rally and march. Women alone cannot stop sexual and domestic violence, just as people of color cannot end racism alone. Sexual and domestic violence affects all of us, and in order to see an end to sexual and domestic violence, we must stand together and speak out."
Deba Swan, another member of the CTC Multicultural Committee, spoke on behalf of the gay and lesbian community.
"Everyone has their right to be free of violence regardless of whatever their sexuality and whatever their lifestyle," Swan said. "Experiencing violence will not change basic parts of the person's identity, although it will cause them harm.
"In other words, you cannot beat out being gay. You can not wash away being gay. You can not scratch away being gay nor can you burn away being gay."
The crowd also learned about the services provided by Loria Lofton, the shelter coordinator for the Families In Crisis in Killeen; Martin Bonner of the Family Advocacy Program of Fort Hood; and Joyce Ware, the director/facilitator of the Look Up and Live Domestic Violence Support Group at the Agape Church of God in Christ in Killeen.
They also got a kick out of the self-defense techniques provided by CTC police Lt. James Smith.
Following the presentations, Brandes-Daunis led the attendees in a march around the campus, chanting in part, "We have the power. We have the might. The streets are ours, take back the night."
In preparation for the program, members of the CTC Multicultural Committee organized what is called the Clothesline Project, a program that started in 1990 in Cape Cod, Mass., to address the issue of violence against women.
"It is a vehicle for women, men and children affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a T-shirt," Brandes-Daunis said.
The T-shirts are hung on a clothesline as testimony to the problems of violence against women.
"The committee members of the CTC Multicultural Committee wanted to expand articles submitted to the Clothesline Project to include not only T-shirts, but also such things as poetry, songs, photos, collages, statues or whatever medium a survivor or person felt represented their healing process or protest against violence," Brandes-Daunis said.
The T-shirt colors represent different types of victims: white for women who have been killed; yellow or beige for women who have been assaulted; red, pink or orange for women who have been raped; blue or green for women survivors of incest or child sexual abuse; lavender for women who have been attacked because of their sexual orientation; and black for women who were killed for political reasons.
"We all need to serve as advocates of the anti-violence movement in our daily lives, whether it be confronting a sexist joke, educating the community, honoring victims, speaking out, lobbying or voting," Brandes-Daunis said.
"We all need to serve as a collective voice for the countless victims who have not yet found theirs. Demand a world where our bodies, minds, and souls are not acceptable targets of violence. Speak out against the attitudes and beliefs that support sexual assault and when no one listens, speak louder."
Contact Jimmie Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Domestic violence is pervasive in our society:
n One in four girls and one in six boys will experience sexual abuse by the time they are 18 years old.
n Three out of 10 girls under the age of 11 have been raped.
n One in five teens who regularly socialize on the Internet have encountered a stranger who has requested cybersex.
n Eighty-three percent of high school girls have been pinched, sexually touched or grabbed against their will by their peers.
n One in eight females will have been raped by the time they finish college.
n Only 2 percent of all rapists are convicted and imprisoned.
n Every nine seconds a woman is battered in the United States.
n Every dayfour women are murdered in the United States.
n During the Vietnam War 58,000 men were killed. In the same period of time, 51,000 women were killed in the United States by their loved ones.
n Women are raped at the staggering rate of 1.3 a minute, which translates into 78 an hour, 1,871 per day or 683,000 per year.