CITY HALL — Dozens of women took a stand against violence toward women as they marched together Friday night on Glendale Avenue, holding signs and wearing white T-shirts in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Some of the women were victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but others were supporters who participated in the Take Back the Night march to bring awareness to the issues.
Marchers gathered inside the YWCA of Glendale, a nonprofit women’s organization, and heard poetry from women who were domestic violence victims. Jeans and T-shirts, which were decorated by domestic violence victims, were placed on bushes outside the YWCA building, others on tables inside the facility, while some garments hung on clotheslines.
“One act of violence is one too many,” said Chairwoman Paula Devine of the Commission on the Status of Women.
The march, Devine said, demonstrated that “Glendale has zero tolerance for sexual assaults against women.”
The march started outside the YWCA on Lexington Drive, went onto Glendale Boulevard to the Perkins Plaza at City Hall and returned to the facility. The Take Back the Night rally is an international event, but local communities organize marches in honor of the event and to bring awareness to violence against women.
When marchers arrived at Perkins Plaza, self-defense instructor Nelson Nio showed the women several moves to protect themselves from attackers.
Friday’s rally was one of several events that have occurred in commemoration of the awareness month.
A free self-defense class, sponsored by the commission and Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, will be held 6 to 7:30 p.m. every Thursday of the month in the Glendale Police Department’s Community Room.
The month of observance ends Wednesday, which is Denim Day, and participants are asked to wear denim to work in order to raise awareness about sexual assaults.
Sexual assault and domestic violence are crimes that occur often, said Liza Boubari, a member of the YWCA Board of Directors.
In some cultures, women are taught to keep quiet about assaults against them, she said.
“We think we deserve it,” Boubari said.
But she said women must start to recognize that they have a voice, and should speak about the violence that they endured.
Camille Levee, executive director of Glendale Healthy Kids, talked about her experience growing up in an abusive home. Her mother was verbally and physically abusive, and at 18, Levee moved away from home, she said.
“I was not allowed to talk about the bruises,” she said.
Since her abusive past, Levee said she has been devoted to helping parents and children in need.
A woman at the march, who asked to remain anonymous, spent many years in several abusive relationships. One day, she said she had enough.
“It’s like an addiction,” she said. “You just keep going back.”
She wanted her daughter to be raised in an abuse-free environment, so, she said, she gave up on relationships with men who only brought her down and never gave her encouragement and confidence.
“As you go to support groups, you hear other people’s stories, and some are worse than yours and others aren’t,” she said. “You realize that it also happened to them and that you are not alone.”