I write this from an airport here in Columbia, S.C. I am waiting for my flight back to Chicago. It has been such a busy week. Tuesday that all important day so much closure to a past I never thought I would get closure to and an outcome that I never expected. Coming face to face with a grown woman who I last saw as a child. The same child that made a pinky promise with me never to tell our secret. Something I would do years later with another best friend making her pinky promise not to tell about my cousin.
I spoke today before a crowd at the National Advocacy Center that had mainly state prosecutors and CAC staff, forensic interviewers especially.
I had a wonderful experience and feel so empowered each time I stand before a crowd sharing my testimony of not living in silence and hope they help others do the same in their field of work. As I sat here looking over my surveys seeing how people evaluated my presentation as I wait for my flight I see many excellent all the way down, I come across many good, and a few with mixed excellent, good, fair. Then there is the few that have left comments. These comments I take serious and actually am going to make a point of it next week when I am in Cape Cod about the topic of good touch/bad touch. I learned something today through the evaluations of my presentation that good touch bad touch sends the wrong message to kids. Some may think they did something bad. Some kids may be confused because what they endured felt okay or good. Someone suggested safe touch which I like. I am really going to look at that when speaking on this.
Another survey caught my attention one person man or woman put down “Poor” for the entire evaluation. I really wish this person who sat there for two hours listening to me would have explained at the bottom his reasons for saying it was such a poor presentation all the way through. That was the only survey of them all that had anything marked poor. This person must have really disliked what I had to say. Not sure if it bored him, not sure if he did not give a shit, maybe he was expecting something different. I have no idea all I know is this person thought I did a poor job. I think from now on I will leave my email address to those who hear me speak so some may contact me afterwords with their thoughts about it. I really liked what one man from Nevada came up to me and asked. He asked me about what forensic interviewers or detectives who talk to kids who they know are being abused but the child is not disclosing can do. I gave him my opinions what the school could have done get the kid to draw. Give them crayons and paper and have them draw. If it was an uncle that may have abused them ask them to draw and describe their cousins, aunt, uncle. Put it in a group together so your not just focusing on the uncle and maybe something will come out. Another good way would be having children write there feelings. Some kids do not feel comfortable speaking it so write it out. I did it for years before breaking my silence. So ask a child can you write a letter about your uncle, step-dad, cousin, your neighbor, etc. Who ever the abuser may be. It was a really good point he made and one I plan to get across when I speak from now on.
I know without a doubt after every presentation someone will approach me and share something about themselves. It happened with a grown man in Houston sharing how he found his voice after thirty years in silence listening to me speak. Today it happened again. A woman approached me at the end and she was crying. She came up to me and said thank you for helping me find my voice after ten years. I was hugging her as she cried and I said thank you for having the courage to share that with me.
The truth is no matter what people may think of me family, friends, or those I have just met I know things happen for a reason. I went through hell and back to turn out to be the person I am today and I will without a doubt put it out there I am still healing. I am still moving forward in this process but I am doing it with my head held high, shedding a few tears along the way, but most importantly proud of who I have become as a result.
Something interesting happened today that has never happened while I am on stage speaking. Any speech I have ever given I have never shed a tear while on stage. Because I was told at 6 years old that crying is for babies. I have always been afraid to show my tears anywhere only in the safety of my own bedroom. A lot has changed in a year. I have not spoken to a crowd of this size like today in over a year. I was really busy my senior year of college that kept me from it. In the course of that year I have broken my silence yet again and this time found out that it is okay to cry and let it out. Crying is not a sign of weakness I see it as a sign of strength. Today there were many moments as I stood at a podium looking down at all these people who I have never met as tears streamed down my face as I talked. Tears of relief, tears of joy, tears for the little girl I was talking about with all of them. That little girl I once was.
I am glad I was able to rescue that child and let her voice be heard. It has been my greatest justice one that I will carry with me for as long as I live.
I have a plane to catch so I must end this. I have plans to go straight from O’hare to my university to make up a class that I missed earlier today that is taught again from 7:15-9pm. I just hope I have the energy when I get back to Chicago to do it. Talking is a workout especially me who talks a million words a minute…and yes that was also brought to my attention….I need to slow down so people do not miss a word I say. Hopefully with all the great feed back I will do that much better next Friday as I once again take to a stage this time in Cape Cod, MA.
Oh I almost forgot……DVR Oprah October 2nd. A slide show will be playing when Alica Keys is singing of people the Oprah Winfrey show is calling “Super Women” There will be a picture appear of me at a podium when I spoke two years ago in Austin, Tx. It will state something about me being a sexual abuse activist. I really do not know much more details then that only that it is a slide show of different women who are making a difference at something. They only use my first name the producer told me.
One more step out of darkness and into the spotlight.