The ‘V’ in V-Day stands for victory, valentine and vagina. In other words, some interpret V-Day as victory over domestic abuse, elevating the meaning of Valentine’s Day, learning to love one another and women learning to love their bodies.
V-Day is a vision of a world where women live safely and freely, a spirit in which women thrive and is celebrated on Feb. 14 in honor of women and an end to violence against them.
Birthed from founder Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues,” V-Day is the catalyst that promotes events to increase awareness, raise funds and rejuvenate the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations.
V-Day also fights to raise consciousness about rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sexual slavery. During this year’s campaign, V-Day proponents are shining a light on rape among women and girls in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
“What we’re seeing in the DRC is a war being enacted on the bodies of women that is conscious and intentional — it is the systematic destruction of the female population of the Congo,” said Ensler.
Without abandoning their underlying mission, V-Day still strives to raise awareness about domestic abuse “until the violence stops.”
Many still hold to the untruth that only a certain type of woman is abused. Julie Marsh, CEO of The Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis (DVNGI) states any woman regardless of race, age, socioeconomic status, or family upbringing (among other factors) can be a victim of domestic abuse.
Whether it’s physical, emotional, financial, technological or social, abuse starts out slow and can develop into a cycle of a calm period, an incident that triggers the abuse, a blowup, then honeymoon. Abuse isn’t a one-time thing, but a pattern ranging from weeks to months in between.
Some wonder how a “normal” relationship can lead to abuse, especially physical, but Marsh states the relationship was probably never normal. Abusers want power over their partner and many times their victims never see the abuse coming.
“The person being abused quite often has a skewed belief system. They see that person as, and have been convinced by that person, that they love them,” said Marsh. “There’s no simple answer to why the person stays. It could be for a variety of reasons like self esteem issues, children involved, economic reasons, or fear.”
Statistics show it can take victims up to 10 times before they completely leave the relationship.
With movements such as V-Day and organizations such as DVNGI, advocates against domestic abuse believe the root of ending domestic violence is for individuals, especially teens, to understand healthy relationships and know the signs of a victim and an abuser.
Abusers usually demand immediate commitment, control their victims in decisions such as what to wear, provide items such as cell phones or GPS systems for immediate access or call the victim multiple times a day wanting to know exact information among other signs.
Victims usually wear sunglasses, don’t like to be physically touched due to bruising, may flinch when sudden movements are made, become withdrawn from family, friends and events, and are frequently late or absent from work.
“Some victims believe they deserve this, because the perpetrator will say ‘you made me do this.’ No, they did it themselves, they chose to inflict the abuse,” said Marsh.
Domestic abuse is a problem that affects the entire community. Advocates against domestic abuse urge the community to get involved and join their fight.
For more information about DVNGI, call (317) 872-1086 or visit www.dvngi.org. For more information on V-Day, visit www.vday.org.