Moderator's Note: The following publication is now out of print [and undergoing revision]. It is reproduced here as a resource for those who wish to read it before passing judgement on it or on the National Network of Presbterian College Women.


 

 

YOUNG WOMEN SPEAK

Issues for Study by College Women

Edited by

Katie Jacobs

Rebecca Todd Peters
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 

...

Who are we?

The National Network of Presbyterian College Women (NNPCW) is a Network of college women and campus ministry/ chaplaincy programs across the United States who are interested in examining issues that are related to being a woman, being a Christian, and being a college student. NNPCW is a collaborative Network of the National Ministries Division of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The Network is organized by the Coordinating Committee (COCO) which is made up of twelve college women from around the country. The Coordinating Committee meets twice yearly to plan and implement the work of the Network. There are four openings on COCO every year and all college women interested in our values and mission are encouraged to apply. You may request an application by writing to Women's Ministries.

Mission Statement

The National Network of Presbyterian College Women consists of women in colleges and universities throughout the United States. With a foundation in the Reformed tradition we are striving to learn about and raise awareness of women's struggles on personal, national and global levels; find role models; support and encourage each other in our maturing faith; develop our potential; and empower women on our campuses. In solidarity we are working to break down the barriers of isolation and to foster hope. This mission is carried out by women on campuses throughout the U.S. and is supported by the Coordinating Committee. NNPCW is sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
 
 

NNPCW Values

The values that help shape the work of NNPCW include: community - which respects diversity; social justice; faith development and women's liberation theologies; global perspectives on women's issues; feminism; young women's leadership; participation in the Reformed tradition of the PCUSA; education; evangelism; ecumenism; and the Church being relevant to young women's lives. Because words are powerful and mean different things to different people, the Coordinating Committee chose to define two of our values for ourselves:

Feminism - Our understanding of feminism grows out of our Christian belief that all people are created in the image of God and thus should be equally respected and heard. Because women in the church and society have historically been marginalized and silenced, we choose to focus on women's lives. We affirm the Christian feminist goals of empowerment and building community; we also value the experiences, struggles and abilites (sic) of women. We believe the possibilities for women in the church and society are unlimited and need to be actively pursued. This understanding of feminism informs our vision and actions, as well as our structure and process. It enables us to approach both feminism and Christianity in ways that are relevant to our lives.

Evangelism - NNPCW reaches out to empower and support college women in the development and deepening of their faith and spirituality by encouraging them to explore how Christian faith can inform issues which affect their lives.

Why an issues packet?

This packet was a dream of the Coordinating Committee as a tool for themselves and for other college women to use as a way to begin organizing around issues that are specific to women. After their first meeting it became clear to them that the issues that affected the lives of college women were many and diverse. Violence against women was found to be one of the greatest problems most COCO members faced in their lives. Other important issues included a need for respect and understanding of cultural diversity, women's self-image an self-esteem, global issues of women, alcoholism/drug abuse, and issues of sexuality and spirituality.

This issues packet contains information, resources, and contact organizations that will enable college women to study eleven different issues and organize groups and action steps around these issues. We were able to include only some of the issues that we felt were important. We hope that in the future we will be able to add more informative pieces about a variety of issues.

What do we do with it?

Each piece includes a description of the issue, particular statements that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has made about the issue (where appropriate), questions for discussion, suggestions for action, and additional resources on the subject.

The packet will enable you to organize a program on any of these issues. The material can be adapted for large or small groups; some activities you will want to plan for mixed gender groups. While college is a time for education, reflection, and growth, it is the hope of the Coordinating Committee that the growth will move college women (and men) to ACTION; for it is only through action that we will be able to effect change in our society. The most natural course of action will be born out of the energy and enthusiasm of your group, but we have included suggestions with each piece to help you get started.

This packet was designed and written by college women, for college women. We hope that the format and information will be helpful for you in your life on your campus. We are eager to hear your feedback -what you like, what you don't like, what you would like to see addressed next, and so on. Please return the enclosed evaluation to NNPCW, Women's Ministries, 100 Witherspoon St., Louisville, KY 40202-1396; telephone, 502/569-8042. We hope you enjoy the packet!

Suggestions for use

1. Talk with your chaplain or campus minister. She or he may have some ideas about how to gather a group for use of the material.

2. As you read the materials, pick one of the issues that is of interest to you and determine who might join you in pursuing work on that issue. Gather a core group and look over the packet, talk about various ways you might use it.

3. Scan the various "suggestions for action" until you find one that appeals to you.

Suggested reading

Faludi, Susan, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Kamen, Paula. Feminist Fatale: Voices from the "Twentysomething" Generation Explore the Future of the "Women's Movement." New York: Donald Fine, Inc., 1991.

The issue

Rape is a violent act of hostility, power, and aggression in which the assailant forces penetration of the vagina, mouth, or anus by the penis or any object against the will and consent of the victim. Acquaintance rape is rape by someone the victim knows. Date rape is rape by someone the victim has been or is dating.

Between 30 and 40 percent of rapes where the victim and the assailant know one another are outside of a date or romantic setting. These rapes are premeditated, just as stranger rapes are. There is no question of differing expectations or of miscommunication. These rapes are motivated by a need to overpower and humiliate. The rapist isolates the women and rapes her.

Even in dating situations, there can be strong elements of the assailant setting up the rape. Often men will date or pick up women who do not appear strong or assertive. They may ply them with alcohol or drugs and/or take them to a secluded place where the sexual assault will occur uninterrupted. Sometimes a man will invite a woman to join him in a group activity in order to allay any initial feelings of discomfort she might have about being out alone with him. Once they are together, the "friends" soon disappear, leaving the assailant and the victim alone.

In many acquaintance rape and most date rape situations, it is sex that the male premeditated, not rape. But when the interaction does not lead to sex as he planned, he proceeds to take what he feels he deserves-sex. The fact that it is against her will and without her consent makes it rape whether he uses physical force or not.

Socialization that is conducive to a date rape occurrence

Young men and women bring different socializations and peer pressures to relationships. Traditionally, males have been taught to be aggressive, are expected to "score" by their peers, and have been socialized not to take women seriously. Traditionally, females have been taught to put another's feelings and needs before their own, to gauge their worth by their attractiveness to men, and at the same time to guard their reputations as "nice girls." More socially liberal women who don't feel bound by traditional gender roles may be seen as "loose" or "deserving rape" by people viewing them from a conventional gender-role standpoint. These differences lead to a myriad of mixed signals and expectations by both men and women in dating and party situations. Coupled with new-found social freedom and experimentation at college, the conditions are particularly conducive to date rape.

Blaming the victim

In our society, men are expected to initiate sexual activity, women to regulate it. When a rape or attempted rape occurs, the victim is often dismissed as "asking for it" by placing herself in a vulnerable situation and/or not being able to stop the assault. While it is true that a woman may do things that contribute to her vulnerability to becoming victimized, she does not "cause" her rape. The assailant causes the rape by determining that he is going to have sex with her with or without her consent.

Many women fight back: they scream, they struggle, they try to flee. But failing to fight back doesn't cause a rape, as many people mistakenly believe. The victim of date or acquaintance rape may be too drunk or stoned to give consent or to struggle. She may be doing her best to verbally confront him. She may believe that the man will come to his senses at any moment and stop forcing her to have sex. She may be terrified of her attacker and/or his threats. She may fear the consequences of the attention she would draw to the attack if she cried out. She may be so physically overpowered that struggle would accomplish nothing but bring more danger to her. She may be in paralyzing psychological shock.

Her "no" or "stop," however strong or weak, is not heard. Her crying is ignored. But she is making it clear that this is not a mutually desired sexual encounter. It is he who has chosen rape.

Men and women need to communicate honestly about what they want sexually early on in their relationship. Women should learn to trust their instincts, be careful to minimize the factors that make them vulnerable to assault, and assert their expectations clearly. Men need to learn that all interactions with women do not necessarily have to lead to sexual contact. They must also learn that it is never OK to use emotional coercion or physical force on a woman.

[The above piece is taken from Coping with Date Rape and Acquaintance Rape and Acquaintance Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention Training Manual, both by Andrea Parrot.]

Adapted from Fellowship of Reconciliation packet Actions for Compassion: Stop the War Against Women.

Some facts you should know:

Sources: National Organization of Women Legal Defense and Education Fund, International Women's Tribune Centre, United Nations Fund for Women, justice for Women Committee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

How has the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) responded?

In 1979, the Council on Women and the Church (COW-AC) submitted a report to the 191st General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church of the United States of America. The report identified the rise of sexual and domestic violence in the U.S. and called on Christians to give compassionate and active responses to the needs of victims of rape. The report therefore urged the church to "strengthen its response to the issues of sexual and domestic violence" by:

The 191st General Assembly adopted this document, calling sexual and domestic violence problems that affect all peoples, including Christians. It was determined that the church has a moral responsibility to the larger community "to be a witness against sexual and domestic violence." There are too many groups in society, the report adds, that are unwilling or unable to speak and act out of a moral position-it is therefore up to the church to do its part in making clear that sexual and domestic violence are "profound" abuses that will not be acceptable. The report concludes, "the goodness of God's creation is celebrated in healthy sexual sharing between mutually consenting equals in a context of respect, caring and trust; it is denied when sexual activity takes place in a context of violence and exploitation."

For discussion

1. Why is it important to look at the issue of sexual assault within a Christian context?

2. How has the church perpetuated walls of silence around this issue?

3. How can the socialization of men and women lead to sexual assault?

4. How do you feel the church views sexuality? (male sexuality; female sexuality; sex within marriage; sex outside of marriage; homosexual couples; single persons)

5. What is your experience of the church's view of sexual violence?

6. Where does the Bible tell of incidents of sexual violence? What is the attitude toward it? In the Old Testament? In the New Testament? (See Hagar-Gen. 16, 21; Tamar-2 Sam. 13; Unnamed woman-Judges 19:1-30; Daughter of Jepthath-Judges 11:29-40.)

7. Discuss the emotional aftermath of assault: fear, denial, difficulty in trusting others, violations, anger, fear to be alone, fear to be with others, guilt, numbness, feeling dirty, grief.

-Amy Kehret

Suggestions for action

1. Become knowledgeable about your community

2. Become knowledgeable and active on your campus

3. Volunteer to work at a local women's shelter or at a sexual assault or rape crisis center. They will provide the training needed to be helpful.

4. Vote and lobby. Be aware of which candidates support rape crisis centers and which take active roles in legislation that protects women's rights.

Write your representatives urging her or him to vote for legislation that will help address violence against women. Contact the PC(U.S.A.) Washington office for more information about such legislation. Furthermore, find out what your state legislature is doing to respond to violence against women.

5. Educate yourself and your community about violence against women. During National Domestic Violence Week or International Women's Day, bring in speakers, offer seminars, or even stage a theatre production that dramatizes the issue of rape.

6. Plan a healing service, using one or more of the rituals enclosed in this packet.

7. Organize a workshop on date rape utilizing the information in this packet. (You may want to end the workshop with a ritual.)

8. Attend or sponsor a self-defense class for women.

Resources

Estrich, Susan. Real Rape. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1987.

Fellowship of Reconciliation Packet. Actions for Compassion: Stop the War Against Women. A packet for college women about violence against women. Available from Fellowship of Reconciliation, Box 271, Nyack, NY 10960,914/358-4601.

Fortune, Marie Marshall. Sexual Violence-The Unmentionable Sin: An Ethical and Pastoral Perspective. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1983.

Keller, Daniel. The Prevention of Rape and Sexual Assault on Campus. Campus Crime Prevention Programs, P.O. Box 204, Goshen, KY 40026, no date.

Parrot, Andrea. Coping with Date Rape and Acquaintance Rape. New York: Rose Publishing Group, 1988.

Pellauer, Mary, et. al. ed. Sexual Assault and Abuse: A Handbook for Clergy and Religious Professionals. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987.

Pritchard, Carol. Avoiding Rape On and Off Campus. Wenonah, N.J.: State College Publishing Co., 1985.

Sanday, Peggy Reeves. Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood, and Privelege on Campus. NY: New York University Press, 1990.

Warshaw, Robin. I Never Called It Rape. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.

Date Rape. (Video) Available from: Rape Treatment Center, Santa Monica Hospital Medical Center, 1250 Sixteenth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404. $50.00.

Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence

1914 North 34th Street, Suite 205 Seattle, WA 98103.

Center for Women Policy Studies 2000 P St., NW, Suite 508 Washington, DC 20036.

Men's Anti-Rape Resource Center P.O. Box 73559 Washington, DC 20056.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence P.O. Box 34103 Washington, D.C 20043-4103 Or call: 1-800-333-SAFE.

National Coalition Against Sexual Assault 2428 Ontario Road, NW Washington, DC 20009.

If you are raped: Get Safe, Get Help, Get Support

Immediately

Get to a safe place: If you feel you are unable to get to a safe place, call the police if possible.

Do not blame yourself. Even if you believe that you were naive or foolish, it is not your fault. Your behavior did not cause the rape; the rapist caused the rape. Do not let any self-consciousness you may feel keep you from getting the help you need.

Call a rape crisis center. They can be your lifeline in a time of great need. Crisis center staff provide counseling, guidance, support, and referral for medical and legal procedures. It is a good idea to know the number of the rape crisis center in your area.

Get medical attention. You will need to be treated for injuries and possible sexually transmitted disease(s) or pregnancy. If you are badly hurt, go directly to a hospital. Do not shower or douche beforehand, no matter how much you want to. This would destroy evidence that is vital should you decide to press charges later on and may limit your legal options.

Tell a friend. You need the support of someone that you trust and who cares about you.

In the next few days

Get ongoing counseling support. Rape is an emotional trauma you should work through with a professional. A rape crisis center can help you locate appropriate counselors and support groups.

Report the attack to police and school officials, whether or not you plan to press charges. Rapists rarely rape once. By reporting the incident, you may save another woman from attack.

Consider whether you want to confront your assailant. Explore all of the options of confrontation with the staff of a rape crisis center to get a realistic idea of what to expect. Options will vary from state to state. You may do something like writing the assailant a letter outlining a factual account of the assault and your feelings about it; you can take him to a face-to-face professional mediation session; or you can file charges with the police and/or campus authorities.

What to expect emotionally

Different people deal with trauma differently, but most survivors go through the basic stages of rape trauma syndrome: trauma, denial, and resolution. It is important to remember that counseling will help prevent these fears from becoming an ongoing problem.

Physical problems resulting directly from the attack or the general symptoms of stress: loss of appetite, headaches, insomnia.

Feelings of anger, helplessness, guilt, pain, embarrassment, or anxiety.

Trauma

Fear of being alone will be most acute right after the rape.

Fear of men. Survivors may generalize fear, anger, and suspicion onto all men.

Sexual problems. Rape survivors may have difficulty with sexual intimacy since rape is a direct negative association with sexual behavior.

Depression. Generally, the more positive, supportive contact a victim has, the less severe the depression.

Fear of retaliation from the offender, especially if the survivor decides to press charges. Any actual threats of retaliation should be reported to the authorities; restraining orders can be issued if needed.

Afraid to trust. May occur when the survivor begins to date again.

Concern over reactions from family and friends. It is not always necessary for a survivor to tell her family and/or friends if she is very sure that they will not support her and will react badly. However, family and close friends may be more supportive than the victim anticipates.

Denial

Not wanting to talk about it. The survivor just wants to put the incident behind her and get on with her life.

Resolution

Working through fears and feelings through seeing a professional and getting support from friends and family.

Time

Regaining a sense of control of her life, moving forward.

Adapted from Friends Raping Friends: Could It Happen to You? by O'Gorman-Hughes and Sandler for the Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges, Washington, D.C.

Reprinted with permission from Fellowship of Reconciliation, Box 271, Nyack, NY 10960, (914) 358-4601

Responding to the survivor of rape or attempted rape

For family, friends and lovers

Believe her. The greatest fear of date/ acquaintance rape and attempted date/ acquaintance rape survivors is that they will not be believed.

Listen. Allow her to talk through the experience at her own pace. Reassure her that you want to hear her and will listen as long as she needs you to.

Comfort her. Do what you can to soothe her verbally. She may want to be held or hugged or she may not want to be touched. Provide things that make her feel warm and safe-cocoa, a blanket, a stuffed animal.

Reinforce that the assault was not her fault. Allow her to talk out her feelings of self-blame if she needs to, but help her see that the assailant caused the assault; she did not.

Provide protection. See that she has a safe place to sleep that night and be available to her when she is again on her own.

Call a rape-crisis center or hotline whether it was a completed rape or an attempted rape. Do this even if she has not yet identified her experience as such. A center or hotline will be able to provide her with a professional response to her traumatization. They will also be able to advise both of you where to go and what to do next.

Encourage her to preserve evidence. She should not clean herself in any way before having a post-rape examination at a hospital. She should be discouraged from changing clothes, but if she insists, each item of clothing should be bagged separately and brought with you to the examination.

Treat her medical needs. She should have a thorough medical examination and treatment for injuries and possible sexually transmitted disease(s) or pregnancy.

Help her organize her thoughts, but let her make decisions about how to proceed. You may advise her or share with her your thoughts and feelings about what she should do, but let her make the ultimate decisions. She needs to regain control of her life; she needs to do what she sees as best for her recovery.

Do not try to take the law into your own hands. Talking about revenge may add an extra burden to the survivor of rape. Putting energy into "getting back" at the perpetrator also focuses more on your feelings of revenge than her need for support.

If you are her lover: with her approval, use appropriate touching and language to help reestablish her feelings of worth. Hugging and touching may assure her that the bond between you is not broken, that you don't consider her "dirtied." It is especially important that you openly discuss what physical/ sexual contact feels appropriate for her for the next several weeks and months.

Help her get psychological and legal help. She will need long-term counseling in order to work through the trauma of the rape or the attempted rape. She will also need legal help if she decides to press charges.

Be available. The rape or attempted rape survivor will continue to need your support as a friend, especially in the next weeks or months.

Learn about rape-trauma syndrome. You and she both will need to understand the various emotional reac-

tions that she will be going through. You will be able to cope with them better if you can identify and understand them.

Get help for yourself. You may need to talk with someone other than the rape or attempted rape survivor to deal with your own thoughts and feelings surrounding the situation. Take care of yourself as well as taking care of her.

College/University Response

Schools should have established preventive measures against rape on campus. They should also have a welldefined, accessible network of support services for women who have been assaulted. The college or university should be able to provide victim advocates, counseling, and psychological support and quality medical care. They should be able to advise women of their rights and alternatives and give them support in police investigations and/or legal actions. Finally, they should exercise swift, decisive action on the perpetrator(s) and address possible residence, security, or party policy problems on school-related property.

Adapted from I Never Called It Rape by Robin Warshaw and from The Prevention of Rape and Sexual Assault On Campus, Campus Crime Prevention Programs, Goshen, Kentucky.

Reprinted with permission from Fellowship of Reconciliation, Box 271, Nyack, NY 10960, (914) 358-4601

Spiritual responses to violence against women

Rituals of mourning, rage, and healing

Unfortunately, adequate spiritual and pastoral care for survivors of rape and domestic violence have often been lacking. Many faith communities have failed to foster a sense of dignity and equal worth in women, minimizing their response to women who have been disempowered by men. Members of all spiritual traditions need to educate their minds and explore their hearts in order to become a community that allows all facets of life to be whole and in harmony.

What follows are three universal rituals dealing with violence against women: the Ritual of Mourning, the Ritual of Rage, and the Ritual of Healing. The format is adapted from the Women's Pentagon Actions of the early 1980s. The rituals can be used verbatim, or they can be adapted to be most appropriate for the participants. You may want to do them all consecutively or one or two out of three.

These rituals are not intended to be worship services. Worship services can be important resources for healing. However, a central purpose of these rituals is to make connections between faith and justice that are inclusive for all people. Therefore references to "Godtalk" and the symbols and images of specific faith communities are absent.

Besides readings and poems, you might want to include songs, artwork, flowers, candles, incense, and political and spiritual symbols. At the Women's Pentagon Action, an affinity group used multicolored yarns decorated with bells, feathers, leaves, and flowers to show that all life is connected. You might want to weave a "web of life" during the Healing Ritual.

Kathleen Fischer in her book Women at the Well: Feminist Perspectives on Spiritual Direction (New York: Paulist Press, 1988) has an excellent chapter on "Violence Against Women." In this chapter she gives a few guidelines for creating a ritual of healing:

These rituals are designed to be cooperatively led. The group gathers in a circle. The reader (R) rotates around the circle moving to the next person each time the entire group, All (A) responds. It is helpful to have a facilitator who will begin the ritual by welcoming everyone, informing them of how the reader parts will rotate, and serving as the first reader.

It is important to be aware that these rituals can be very emotionally charged. There may be participants who will be overwhelmed with the global dimensions of the war against women presented in them. Others may get in touch with painful experiences they have long buried. For this reason, it is important to have professional counseling services available.

Ritual of mourning

This ritual is done in silence except for one reader. Stand in a circle: a circle of mourning and compassion. If there are men in the circle, remember that there are male survivors of sexual violence (child abuse, gay bashing, rape). Although the focus is on violence against women, there needs to be compassion for the men who are violated as well.

(To be read slowly, time enough for people to discover, ponder, feel.)

R: Look around the circle.... Look at the person you encounter.... Let the realization arise in you that she may be the one in three women raped in her lifetime; that he may be the one in six men sexually abused .... Keep breathing. Observe that face, unique, vulnerable ... What color is her/his hair? Is she/he wearing glasses, earrings? ... See the skin intact on her/his body.... Are there any bruises? ... Become aware of your desire, as it arises, that this person be spared such suffering and horror, feel the strength of that desire.... Keep breathing.... Let the possibility arise in your consciousness that this person might be killed ... because she is a woman; because he resists violence against women.... Open to the feelings for this person that surface in you with the awareness of this possibility.... Open to the levels of caring and connection it reveals in you ....

Adapted from Joanna Macy's Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1983.

Spiritual responses to violence against women

Ritual of rage

An excellent, gripping, disturbing poem to begin the ritual with is "With No Immediate Cause" by Ntozake Shange. (in Sexual Assault and Abuse: A Handbook for Clergy and Religious Professionals edited by Mary Pellauer, et. al. [San Francisco: Harper and Row, 19871.)

R: I was shot in my classroom at the University of Montreal. Fourteen of us were gunned down that cold December day.

A: Women are dying because they are women.

R: I am a Nepalese girl. There wasn't enough food for all Of us, so my parents fed my brother first and gave me what was left. I died before by fifth birthday.

A: Women are dying because they are women.

R. I was raped repeatedly at knifepoint. The jury let him off, saying my dress provoked the attack.

A. Women are violated because they are women.

R: My name is Lisa Marie Bianco, but he called me bitch. He raped me, he beat me, he kidnapped our children. He crushed my skull with a rifle butt.

A: Women are dying because they are women.

R: I am an Indian woman. I was so happy as a new bride but his family thought my- dowry was too small. He set me alight with kerosene. The cause of death was determined to be a "kitchen accident."

A: Women are dying because they are women.

R: I am a Chinese girl. My parents wanted a male child to carry on the family name and work in the fields. So I was killed at birth.

A: Women are dying because they are women.

R: I was so thrilled when he asked me out. Then after dinner he started touching me. I kept saying "No, please don't." He wouldn't listen.

A: Women are violated because they are women.

R: The first time he hit me, I was shocked. He said he was sorry. He said it would never happen again. I wanted to believe him. But it happened again and again.

A: Women are violated because they are women.

R: Too many women have been beaten.

A: The rage I feel makes me want to cry out. (May do so.)

R: Too many women have been raped.

A: The rage I feel makes me want to scream. (May do so.)

R: Too many women have been killed.

A: The rage I feel makes me want to wail. (May do so.)

R: We will channel our rage to end the war against women!

A: The energy of this rage empowers us to act. We will speak out for ourselves. We will speak out for our sisters. We will turn this rage into change!

Ritual of healing

This ritual requires a wash basin and a few towels. Fill the basin with water. Place the basin in the center of the circle. Two members of the organizing group stand by the table: the reader and the washer.

R: There is much brokenness in the world.

A: We are all hurt by the war against women.

R: There is much pain in this room.

A: We feel the pain in our souls and in our bodies.

R. There is much hope in the world.

A: Joining together with students across the country to stop the war against women gives us hope.

R: There is much healing in this place.

A. We are inspired by one another's presence here.

R: We gather here in compassion for all those who have been injured. We seek to heal the wounds of violation in the world and in our lives.

A: Let us heal the wounds of the wrongs that have been done.

Washer:

This is the water of justice, of hope, of healing. Come and be cleansed in its overflowing stream. Come and be liberated from the bonds of fear and violation. Come and be empowered to work for justice and equality with reverence and joy.

Participants should approach the center one at a time. For each person, the washer will cup her hands in the water and pour the water over the person's hands as they hold them over the basin.

As the water is poured over each person's hands, the groups says in unison:

A: Your hands are set free to work for justice. Let your heart be filled with compassion.

Reprinted with permission from Fellowship of Reconciliation, Box 271, Nyack, NY 10960, (914) 358-4601
 
 

Young Women Speak - Part 2