Pressley Leading Empowerment Day for Girls and Women on Saturday

Four workshops will be offered, including a personal safety training sessions, a workshop for survivors and a self-defense class for mothers and daughters.

"I was frustrated when I saw the issue of rape as a focal point in our presidential election. There was interest in high profile incidents. But that focus seems to always be temporary as long as these issues are on the frontburner. What we really need is to end all forms of violence and have a sustainable longterm conversation and outreach. I want to talk openly about all types of sexual violence. And all year round, not just during the heat of an election or on the heels of a high profile incident."

Those are the words of At-Large Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, a survivor herself of child sexual abuse and sexual assault as an adult. 

The conversation, outreach, and how to protect yourself, are all apart of Raise Your Voice: A Day of Empowerment for Girls and Women, taking place on Saturday at Northeastern for free for all Boston residents. (See below for more info on how to register, etc.)

Participants are being offered four workshops:

  • A personal safety training and Rape Aggression Defense System Teaser for women (the class is normally four weeks);
  • A self-defense workshop for mothers and daughters (or adult women and their mentees);
  • A workshop designed for survivors;
  • A workshop for providers that will explore the complexity of sexual violence in the context of intimate partner relationships and better equip providers with the tools to identify clients in violent relationships and connect them with resources.

Pressley partnered with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, the Boston Police
Department, Casa Myrna, and Girls’ LEAP to create this day.

Event Being Held on MLK Weekend - National Service Day

Said Pressley, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said 'Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a
quantitative change in our lives.'  Martin Luther King, Jr. was the standard bearer for non-violence. Like Dr. King, so many of us have witnessed or experienced violence as an evil in our lives, as a barrier to building a beloved community.

"I’m challenging people to instead of that long weekend off, to honor Dr. King with a service day on Saturday as a 'day on'," explained Pressley.

President Barack Obama has also declared Saturday, Jan. 19, a National Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of service. 

Sexual assault statistics, provided by Councilor Pressley:

  • There were still almost 300 reported sexual assaults in Boston in 2011 (awaiting complete 2012 data).
  • BARCC had caseworkers meet more than 300 people being treated for sexual assaults in Boston Hospitals last year (those treated not necessarily Boston residents; this number doesn’t include Boston residents who were treated outside of the City nor does it account for women who were assaulted but not treated at a hospital).
  • The Boston Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2011 found that 12.6% of Boston high school students reported being physically forced to have sexual intercourse (15.8% of girls and 9.2% of boys). Of note, the data is collected every other year, so there is no 2012 data.

Pressley also spoke about sexual assault with boys and men as victims in regards to the event. "While this event is tailored for women and girls, I expect, and
welcome, boys and men to attend and to participate in either our Survivors workshop or our Providers workshop. The BPD Personal Safety workshop may also be beneficial."

Register on Facebook or email Jessica.taubner@cityofboston.gov or call
Pressley's office at 617-635-4217.

The Empowerment Day will take place on Sat., January 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Northeastern University, Egan Engineering/Science Research Center, Raytheon Amphitheater, 120 Forsyth Street.


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