Valentine's Day has taken on new meaning for One Billion Rising, the campaign to end violence against women and girls.
Wanganui's One Billion Rising (OBR) on Friday danced along Victoria Ave in a show of support for the cause.
They were the first group in a series of dances held around the world.
Maria Lawless knows well the symbolism of emerging from years of abuse.
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"The biggest one is the secrecy and normalising of abuse. You think it is normal."
Threats around the abuse kept it secret, but now abuse was outed and at the forefront of communities, she said.
She was also pleased that the younger generation, such as singer Pink, were now stepping up to have their voices heard to combat the violence.
Last year, on what has become known in OBR as VDay, one billion people in 207 countries rose and danced to demand an end to the gender violence.
In Kabul on Friday, Afghan women joined the dance at 1pm, and globally women's activists have mobilised.
Oxfam and actress Charlize Theron also offered her support and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon renewed his pledge to stop the violence.
At a gathering of OBR coordinators in New York last year, the focus was on justice, with education firmly alongside it to address the causes of violence against women.