April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center describes this as a time “to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.”
There are so many ways to do this. Here are a few things from my small-town world:
1) One unit of my Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies class this month focused on violence against women. We read about everything from rape as a tactic of war to the cycle of intimate partner violence, and students are now working through a series of class discussions analyzing Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Color Purple. Violence and survival are some of many issues that emerge in Celie’s story, and how the intersection of racism, sexism, and poverty affect her life.
2) A few weeks ago, I wrote a commentary piece for my local paper on sexual terrorism and some local events. I shared part of that piece here.
3) A neighboring college in my town held their annual Take Back the Night Rally last week.
4) Students on my campus are organizing a poster contest, and staging their annual Walk A Mile in Her Shoes men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence later this month.
If you are interested in the complex intersection of Christianity and violence against women, here are some reading suggestions. It’s important to explore the sometimes-problematic connections between the bible, Christian history, and theology with the pervasive problem of violence against women:
Violence Against Women and Children: A Christian Theological Sourcebook, edited by Carol J. Adams and Marie Fortune.
The Cry of Tamar: Violence Against Women and the Church’s Response, by Pamela Cooper White.The Dinah Project: A Handbook for Congregational Response to Sexual Violence, by Monica A. Coleman.
Women, Abuse, and The Bible: How Scripture Can Be Used to Hurt or to Heal, edited by Catherine Clark Kroeger and James R. Beck.
Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets, by Renita Weems.
Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse, by Marie Fortune.
Christianity, Patriarchy, and Abuse: A Feminist Critique, edited by Joanne Carlson Brown and Carole R. Bohn.
Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives, by Phyllis Trible.
No Place for Abuse: Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence, by Catherine Clark Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark.
Do what you can, where you are. Ending violence and supporting survivors is work in which we all must share.
RAINN National Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE
Safe Horizon Hotline: 1-800-621-HOPE