By Mary Brennan-Taylor, Vice President of Programs, YWCA of the Niagara Frontier
The clock is ticking on gender-based violence. In the 90 minutes that it will take to write this blog it is estimated that in the United States, 600 women will be assaulted and 45 people are sexually assaulted. During this same day there will be more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide from victims seeking shelter and support. And by the time this day draws to a close, 3 women in the United States will have been murdered by the one person she should have been able to trust: her intimate partner.
Every woman, from childhood to adulthood, deserves the right and opportunity to reach her fullest potential, but that potential can only be realized if she lives a life free from violence. For nearly three decades, YWCA of the Niagara Frontier has focused on the eradication of gender-based violence as central to our mission to eliminate racism and empower women. We cannot realize our mission without first addressing this public health epidemic that impacts every part of our community. A society where gender-based violence exists is a society devoid of racial and gender parity, and this is something that we strive for day in and day out to change.
Domestic violence is a public health crisis that impacts every demographic. No one is immune and to that end, it is our belief that no one can be left out of the dialogue to put an end to this deadly scourge. It is not a conversation exclusively for women. Every member of our community must become a stakeholder: black and white, children and seniors, athletes and business people, faith communities and college students, the well- heeled and the impoverished — all must be engaged and outraged by the ever-increasing statistics of sexual assault, rape, harassment, domestic violence, and homicide, and become active participants in changing the way gender-based violence is viewed and tolerated.
Before another second ticks by, let’s unmask the evils of gender-based violence. Working collaboratively with all facets of our communities we can ensure that prevention education takes place across every inch of our community — in elementary schools and on college campuses, in community clubs, organizations, and Sunday church services. We do not have time to wait.
Mary Brennan-Taylor is Vice President of Programs for the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier. In this capacity, Mary oversees the countywide Alternatives to Domestic Violence counseling and housing programs, supportive services at Carolyn’s House, a 19-unit transitional housing program for homeless women and children, and the county’s only confidential rape crisis emergency response and counseling program.
YWCA’s Week Without Violence is part of a global movement to end violence against women and girls with the World YWCA. Want to join the movement to end gender-based violence? Learn more at www.YWCAweekwithoutviolence.org and join the conversation on Twitter with #WorkAgainstViolence.