A speech from the Transitional Housing Program’s 2017 Women’s Equality Day Celebration.
Imagine ghosts in the darkness, darting into the shadows to avoid being spotted by police driving by.
Imagine when night falls, the daunting realization that you have nowhere to go. There is no place you call home.
Imagine the overwhelming feeling that you belong nowhere.
This is what it feels like to be homeless. In my mind, belonging nowhere meant I was nothing, I was nobody. Insignificant, less than zero.
What would Cedar Rapids be like with no homeless women and children? Imagine a city where domestic violence is an isolated incident, not the norm. Imagine if enough support existed for women to break free of the violence and oppression; break free of the prison that domestic violence is.
Poverty, despair, hopelessness, learned helplessness. These are just a few of the characteristics women experience as they live with an abuse- and leaving frequently means homelessness.
We celebrate women’s equality. The right to walk down the street without being assaulted or threatened. The right to vote. The right to be a homeowner. The right to be your own person. The right to NOT be punched, kicked, slapped, pushed, sexually assaulted or any of the abusive behaviors that take place every day to women among you. Where are they to go?
Women need safe housing, equal pay, medical services, and transportation. Survivors of domestic violence turn to homeless service programs because they lack the economic resources to obtain housing after leaving an abusive relationship. These women need supportive services that can help them heal from the trauma of abuse and improve their financial security and well-being.
Living in darkness and fear causes brokenness and low self-worth to the women who face domestic violence and homelessness. It is baffling and terrifying to escape the clutches of the one who hurts you, yet claims to love you. These toxic relationships damage the victims, heart, soul, mind, and psyche.
We must celebrate women. Embrace their challenges, get involved, reach out. Invest in women. Yes, we have achieved equality in many areas. But there is still lack of shelter, services, and funding in comparison to the need.
Equality for women isn’t a women’s issue. When women fulfill their potential, society as a whole benefits.
Celebrate women, those who are successful, as well as those who are struggling.
Women’s equality means NO MORE FEAR!