Santa Rosa marches for justice in a One Billion Rising protest

Santa Rosa community members gather downtown for a One Billion Rising walk for justice to the SRJC campus.

Jynessa Lazzaroni, Staff Writer

“Listen, Act, Rise.” The women and men who participated in “One Billion Rising” sang out in unison, one hand in the air, pointer finger to the sky to

symbolize the one billion women around the world who have experienced or will experience violence in their lifetime.

The global “One Billion Rising” movement began on Valentine’s Day 2012 as a call to action to lower the staggering statistics that say one in three women will be abused in their

lifetime. Now, “One Billion Rising” events occur worldwide, with women and men rising up and shedding light on various issues that affect women within their communities and globally.

Sonoma County’s second annual “One Billion Rising” event kicked off Feb. 14 with a march from Old Courthouse

Square in downtown Santa Rosa to the Bertolini Student Center at Santa Rosa Junior College. The march included community members, women from the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women and several other local organizations.

Signs held above their heads read “Stop The Violence” and “End Violence against Women,” capturing the attention of countless passing cars and pedestrians who honked and chanted in support of the movement.

e event brought community organizations out to provide information and support to any potential victims or allies present. Attending agencies included Verity, a local sexual assault organization, Damsel in Defense and many other organizations representing all of Sonoma County.

e theme of this year’s event, “Rise for Revolution,” encouraged women to speak out and take back their power. Attendees were encouraged to revel in their femininity and to dance – a worldwide symbol of empowerment and self-acceptance.

Guest speakers included Kimberly Ellis, director of Emerge California, a Bay Area-based organization that trains women to take on positions of power within the political sector.

“Having women in political positions at the table when women’s issues are being discussed will ultimately improve the services that are provided to women throughout the state and hopefully across the nation,” Ellis said.

Community members also listened to Debbie Ternes, a survivor of domestic violence and an educator with Guided to Safety, a local domestic violence organization and a certified Fearless Living Coach.

“One of the things that I have been honored and blessed to do is work with teenagers to help educate them about what is acceptable and what healthy relationships look like, and what they can do to imagine a different

reality for themselves,” Ternes said. She uses her story to help encourage more women to leave their abusers.

“If you have a friend who you suspect is experiencing domestic abuse, don’t give up on them. Keep asking questions; just know that they’ll know the right time to go,” Ternes said.

A Marin County police officer spoke about how to avoid becoming a potential

victim by being more aware of one’s surroundings, walking with confidence and not being distracted by mobile devices. All these things would deter a potential aggressor.

Following an afternoon of powerful songs and moving stories from several speakers, everyone joined together for one final dance to celebrate the rising and the change to come.

“It’s time for revolution,” Ellis said.