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Perspective: We're all here for a reason

Michael Jarmoluk

It’s Women’s History Month, and I've been thinking about the history of the anti-violence movement. Like many social justice movements, the anti-violence movement was born from grassroots organizing. It began with survivors and advocates who wanted to ensure that survivors of violence were given justice and guaranteed safety by the law.

Safe Passage, DeKalb’s only domestic and sexual violence crisis center, is just over 40 years old —and older than the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. The anti-rape movement in Illinois started in the late 1970s with nine community-based crisis centers that eventually formed the coalition that we know today as Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. All forms of violence are based in power and control –- they are never caused by anyone except the perpetrator.

I first became involved in the anti-rape movement in 2012, in response to a series of events throughout my lifetime that left me feeling like I did not have control over my body or life. I subsequently entered two long term relationships that ultimately became violent –- but these eventually pushed me to take my power back by continuing my education and eventually coming to work for Safe Passage.

Everyone knows someone who has experienced or been impacted by violence. Around our organization, we often say, “We are all here for a reason.” As federal funding cuts impact survivors of all forms of violence, it’s important to remember why our centers are here — and what life might look like if we weren’t.

I’m Nia Norris and that’s my Perspective.

Nia Norris is a resident of DeKalb and the Director of Prevention and Communication at Safe Passage. Nia moved to DeKalb in 2021 for her MA in Communication Studies at NIU and has planted roots in the community.