Susan Cushman works as a sculptor as part of her therapy to help her move past the trauma of being raped. She says her art is part of her effort to make the world a place where women can feel safe wherever they go.
To do it, she sculpts clay labia.
"Happy labias equal world peace," Cushman says.
When she heard about a call on a billion people to rise up against sexual violence, Cushman had to take part.
"I believe that if women were free from rape and violence, we would have world peace," she says.
Cushman is an organizer of a local One Billion Rising, a worldwide protest scheduled Feb. 14 to draw attention to issues of violence against women.
The events are sponsored by V-Day, a nonprofit advocacy group funded by ticket sales of The Vagina Monologues, which has been translated into 48 languages and seen in more than 140 countries since it was first performed in 1996.
V-Day has raised more than $90 million and marks its 15th anniversary this year with the One Billion Rising protests.
"It's a global call—inviting everybody in to participate," says Susan Swan, executive director of V-Day.
The Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler founded V-Day in 1998. Her play is performed thousands of times a year to raise money. V-Day has supported safe houses and community centers, among other efforts.
Swan says this year's action was inspired by a 2006 United Nations report that estimates one in three women will be the victim of violence in her lifetime.
The organization is hoping to get people all over the world to stand up and dance—from the United Kingdom to Sudan, from Mexico to The Dalles. Ensler will be dancing in the Congo at the City of Joy, a community center built with V-Day support.
Cushman is enthusiastic to dance in solidarity with other women in Director Park.
"I was one of the 1 billion," she says. "I was raped by a cousin. I was date raped. I was beaten. My daughter is 20. I want my world to be safe for my daughter and all the daughters."