When I first read that 19,000 women a year get raped in the military, I thought it was a typo. When I read the next sentence that women in our military were more likely to be raped by our own soldiers then by the enemy, I thought, obviously. If any nation's soldiers raped 19,000 American women, I believe Washington would retaliate with nuclear weaponry. But how to nuke our own depraved GI's?
The next week I was at a cocktail reception for Congressman Charlie Rangel and a woman there asked me what the most interesting thing I had learned recently was and I mentioned that rape statistic. She seemed a little startled, then said, Good! I am glad people are getting this. I am one of those 19,000 and my life was a living hell!"
Recently I attended a symposium at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City about "Women, Violence, and Meditation" sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation and Third Fire Films. Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the U.S. I leaned that one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime around the world. Most often, it is a member of her own family.
The symposium featured dynamic women speaking about their personal and professional experiences with sexual violence. The panelists included TV commentator Rita Cosby, Dr. Sarina Grosswald, filmmaker Joni Steele Kimberlin, the vivacious Dr. Pamela M. Peeke, CNN's Soledad O'Brien, an ex-soldier Tara Jones Wise, and the founder of Children on the Night, Dr. Lois Lee.
Soledad O'Brien, the anchor of CNN's Starting Point, opened the symposium with a filmed greeting:
It all started with a deep desire... to alleviate stress and promote peace in the lives of people everywhere... by giving them the gift of meditation... For years, David Lynch had heard of students going to school carrying guns; heard of the tens of millions of children taking drugs for learning disorders, anxiety, depression, even high blood pressure. He read that 70% of students with mental health problems were not getting the help they need, and that the third-leading cause of death among teenagers... is suicide.
Rita Cosby spoke on abused women and Transcendental Meditation. Although I was concerned we would not hit it off as we are rather far apart on the political spectrum, I discovered over dinner that Rita is an incredibly passionate and caring humanitarian who believes that T.M. can help women cope with sexual violence. In her introductory remarks, Rita said:
As a television journalist for more than twenty years, I have seen women and girls in their worst state, overwhelmed by their difficult ordeals from battling homelessness, drugs, prostitution.... or from a fight of a different kind, a deep depression or anxiousness stemming from the traumas of war.
Much to my surprise, Rita Cosby totally won me over - what an incredible human being.
Photo: David Lynch Foundation.
Rita mentioned that post-traumatic stress can immobilize even the most courageous veteran and the numbers are staggering. She told me that an estimated half million men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan alone are believed to have some form of PTSD - incredible numbers which make me realize what a large problem such stress is in America. Rita explained that Transcendental Meditation can provide comfort not only to those suffering from the unseen wounds of war, but for those family members or other caregivers who are mentally and physically exhausted and need a daily recharge to enhance their own mental stability.
Tara Jones-Wise spoke on her 'transcendental transition' from the U.S. military. Survivor of undiagnosed military sexual trauma, anxiety disorder, overmedication, and severe body aches as a result of her military service, Tara made a profound impression on me. A video of her story may be seen below.
Amazing video presentation by Tara Jones Wise at symposium Women, Violence, and Meditation. Courtesy of the David Lynch Foundation.
Transcendental Meditation saved my life. It calmed my mind, helped to restore my nurturing nature, restored my femininity, and has helped me to become a better thinker. Once I learned, I didn't have to depend on anyone else. It makes me feel good inside mentally and physically. Now I can picture my future of being a grandmother, a successful business woman, and a strong advocate with my fellow sisters. The David Lynch Foundation found me - well I guess we found each other. Because of T.M., today I feel like I matter for the first time in a long time.Joni Steele Kimberlin's Get Real Wise Women Speak is a film about amazing women in the third stage of their lives, and the inner fire that propels them to use their wisdom and experience to make a difference in the world. Joni told her audience, "I was disgusted with the way popular media portrays women, young or old. So I went in search of modern day wise women. After all, mythology and ancient literature across the board in nearly every culture, represents wisdom as feminine. No surprise there!" There are 18 women in her film including Jane Fonda, Nobel Prize winner Jody Williams, poet Nikki Giovanni, and the council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers.
The powerful Pamela M. Peeke, M.D., M.P.H. spoke on 'Empowering Women and Girls with Mind-Body Fitness.' She said:
Stress can be your friend or your foe. When stress fuels the spark of personal achievement, it can work to your benefit by making you more perceptive and productive, acting as a motivator and even making you more creative. But when stress flames out of control - as it often does for many of us today - it can take a terrible toll on your physical and emotional health, as well as your relationships.
Sarina J. Grosswald, Ed.D. explained that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is far more prevalent than we realize. In recent years it has come to public attention because of the large number of our service members returning from war baring the scares of that experience. But even setting that situation aside, it is estimated that about 8% of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. She explained:
PTSD does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages, sex, and marital status. In any given year, approximately 5.2 million people in the U.S. have PTSD. Though the prevalence in children has not been studied extensively, more than five million children are exposed to some form of extreme trauma every year. Thirty percent of these children develop symptoms of PTSD.The organization Children of the Night (link) has rescued over 10,000 American children from prostitution right here in the United States -- more children than all of the other sex trafficking programs combined. Child prostitution starts at home and most child prostitutes were sexually abused as young children often by their first caregivers. In response, the child learns to shut down feelings and not let anyone inside - they learn to disassociate feelings from their bodies. These children learned how to manipulate people, read people, to size up situations and to outsmart others to survive.
The David Lynch Foundation and the DLF Women's Initiative funds university and medical school research to assess the effects of the program on academic performance, ADHD and other learning disorders, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and diabetes.
Healing and Empowering Women and Girls. For more information on how you can help secure funds to support outreach to women and girls, please contact the David Lynch Foundation's Women's Initiative, 654 Madison Avenue, Suite 805, New York, N.Y. 10065 or by e-mail.
Women, Violence & Transcendental Meditation Series
Ms. Rita Cosby: Abused Women and Transcendental Meditation (video)
Dr. Sarina Grosswald: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder More Prevalent Than We Realize (video)
Ms. Joni Steele Kimberlin: Filmmaker: Get Real Wise Women Speak (video)
Dr. Pamela M. Peeke: Empowering Women & Girls with Mind-Body Fitness (video)
Ms. Soledad O'Brien: Opens Women, Violence & Meditation Symposium (video)
Ms. Tara Jones Wise: Transcendental Transition from the Military (video1, video 2)
Plus: African Relief (video) | COTN (video) | Children on the Night (video)
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The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org) is the umbrella organization under which Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW) is organized. If supporting young global leadership is important to you, subscribe to J. Luce Foundation updates here.