Sisterhood powerhouse raises feminine voices

Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding, professor, artist, and senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church spoke at Center for Spiritual Living Colorado Springs in February for the “Season of Nonviolence.” The talk comes days before the sixty-third session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women March 11-22 and International Women’s Day March 8.

Colorado Springs women leaders spoke to nonviolence and abuse in the days leading-up to the sixty-third session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) March 11-22 and International Women’s Day March 8. 


Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and SherryLynn Boyles, executive director of TESSA. Both stepped off stage at Center for Spiritual Living Colorado Springs to speak at the same level with the audience forming a relational connection. 


“Our inability to live in the divine leads to sexual trafficking and domestic violence… As we build our faith we ignore the spirit…We stepped out of faith in pursuit of the cultural and social,” Rev. Dr. Spaulding said. “The system allows for more (jail) time for animal abuse than sexual assault in El Paso county…We have to challenge our systems to allow women to speak, to listen to them, and act in solidarity.” 


Similarly, Boyles indicated an average of 35 domestic calls are made a day in Colorado Springs, in which a fraction are reported. TESSA’s state capital office receives 2,000 protective orders a day.


Rev. Dr. Spaulding, is also a professor of ethics and women’s studies at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She cited biblical scripture of the married Sarai and Abram as “the linage of Abrahamic tradition that created a crash of faith.” 


“It is Divine prophecy that Abram would produce an air, the father of many nations. Abram wanted the word of God to be true, but while living in the natural meaning biology. Sarai was well beyond child bearing. There arose a conflict of spirit and faith. Sarai moved out of spirit into culture to have an Egyptian maid conceive a child. Abram was under the power and authority of Sarai,” Rev. Dr. Spaulding said. 


This socialization initiated Me Too starting more than 12 years ago and becoming a movement in 2006. Me Too founder Tarana Burke, an African-American woman, was doing community service when young woman revealed her experience of sexual trauma and violence. Burke was unable to vocalize her own experience, incapable to say “me too.” She was told by a safe house we do not take walk-ins, and was diminished being seen only as a black woman. 


“The system itself is not structured in a way to integrate intersectionality… The intersection creates a void in which experience is not validated,” Rev. Dr. Spaulding said. “The on ramp between city streets and the highway is the space in between, in which we are all responsible. We should be recognizing that woman are already powerful. They need the space to be powerful.”
Kimberle Crenshaw, lawyer and critical race scholar, in 1989 analyzed the law experiencing overlapping oppression that did not have a way to argue multiple oppressions. 


“Colorado Springs has larger than the national rate of domestic abuse,” Boyles said. “Victims say they are more traumatized by the legal system.” 


TESSA hired three attorneys, in addition to 20 contract attorneys, with the support of a grant to provide counseling, legal services and housing. 


Boyles provided the definition of abuse as a pattern of one partner using tactics to control another partner. 


“There is a manipulation and trapping that happens. It can take quite a while for the physical. Grooming with attachment – going back and forth creates the attachment. There is a reason we call it make-up sex,” she said. 


Regarding toxic masculinity, Rev. Dr. Spaulding asserts: “If we allow it to exist, we do not allow for great men to be great men.”
The humanitarian nonviolence topic continues at Show Up for Her: Building Trust, Community & Sisterhood in Your Field or NGO workshop March 14. The workshop is held by See Jane Do and Women’s Intercultural Network delegates to the UNCSW as a parallel session.

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