Harnessing the Power of Theater for Social Change

November 18, 2014 5:28 PM

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October was domestic violence awareness month--as April will be sexual assault awareness month. This has not always been so. The intimate violence that impacts as many as one quarter of all women is not a recent social phenomenon, but domestic violence shelters, rape-crisis hotlines, and many laws relating to sexual violence are still younger than many of the women (and sometimes men) who need them. Historically, and in the face of ancient problems, we are just beginning to expose and fight sex-based violence. But while the fight against domestic and sexual abuse is relatively young, it has yielded lessons of infinite value to a fight that is still in its infancy: the fight against sex trafficking.

A central lesson from the movement fighting violence against women is this: It is easy to focus on the wrong thing, asking "why didn't she just leave?" (of domestic violence victims) or "what was she doing alone with him?" (of rape survivors). These questions may be instinctual, but they lead to a n...

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