On My Way!

Ever have one of those transformative experiences? You're looking at mine. Photos courtesy of WrightWay Photography.
Ever have one of those transformative experiences? You’re looking at mine. Photos courtesy of WrightWay Photography.

Just a quick note on this seemingly mundane Wednesday night to let you know how excited I am to get started tomorrow evening on my training to be a victims’ advocate. I will be spending five hours per week for the next six weeks learning about sexual assault of women, men and children, abuse and how our courts, police and crisis centers can work together to aid victims. I expect to learn a lot and to grow through my discomfort at some of the subject matter. But it’s about time I got going on this.

When I spoke at the Clinton School in February 2010, it was my first time disclosing about my assault to a room full of strangers. Up until then, I had published an article in Marie Claire, been interviewed by a few publications and told my friends and coworkers. As if making the speech wasn’t enough of an emotional rollercoaster, upon completion of my speech, I was approached by several women who had been in the audience. And for some of them, I became the first person they disclosed to about their own assaults. The photo below captures my face during the moment the first woman disclosed to me ( I cropped her out for her privacy).

I managed to keep it together for her sake, but inside, I was a swirling, churning mess.

She had gone on a cruise in Greece and inexplicably woke up one morning with her underwear down around her ankles and showing clear signs she had been violated, but had no memory of what had happened. Something about my speech had made her want to finally say the words out loud to someone. And as she did so, she began to cry and I did too. I felt so overwhelmed and so completely inadequate because I knew she was looking for something from me, and I am not sure I ever gave her what she needed. I hugged her tightly but awkwardly with my one good arm and encouraged her to speak with someone. And I told her I had some ideas about how to look into the crime if she wanted to go that route. But I will never forget the moment or that feeling because it gave rise to a resolve to educate myself further about sexual assault and what victims go through.

Once I am certified, I won’t be able to discuss my cases. But, I most definitely will post from time to time my feelings about the entire experience and what I find uplifting, depressing or worth noting. That’s the best I can do for now and I hope you all will find value in it.

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