During the summer of 2007 women were brutally violated and murdered in Lansing, Michigan (Associated Press, “Michigan Police Nab Serial Killer”), and I followed the news from Belgium. Articles by the Lansing State Journal delegated dignity to victims on a selective basis, treating one as a model citizen and another a criminal. The mayor devised a safety plan without mention of preventing violence against women, though women were targets of the rampage. Such events exposed a lag in public dialogue about violence against women, which compelled me to take action.
From Belgium I began contacting city officials and media, participating in online forums, and blogging about what was happening. Upon return to Lansing I spoke at City Council meetings. With inspiring participants and partners’ help, I organized SPEAK OUT! for Safety (here’s the event’s program). Survivors of violence, loved ones of victims, neighbors, and advocates gathered to promote public safety and to prevent violence against women (see LSJ archives, “Taking a stand” by Kathleen Lavey ). I also organized follow-up dialogues, one in the community – The Safety Union – and at City Hall.
Many people gave moral and material support to the campaign, which ran from August to December 2007. Each person was essential in raising awareness about violence against women, as shown in The City Pulse‘s cover story “If boys will be boys, then men will beat women” (Oct.3,2007 ) by Gretchen Cochran. Details about this work are available on my retired Women Writers blog. There’s an archive for some of my correspondence and comments, as well as a Flickr album of the actions.