When a colleague asked me to take part in the One Billion Rising event happening across the world on February 14th, 2013, I was moderately intrigued by another activist organization taking on women’s issues. The V-Day event is intended to reveal the collective strength of men and women united to end violence against 1 in every 3 women and girls. “I might get involved in that. It would be good for business,” was my initial thought. To learn more, I perused the V-Day Movement website .What I didn’t know was how my participation would end up taking me somewhere I never thought I’d go.
V-Day awoke something in me. It connected me to my feelings and a place deep inside me I had packaged as healed and best forgotten. I’d cleaned it. I’d put it away. And here it was, staring me in the face again: I was one in every three women.
I had to really consider whether speaking out about my story was the right thing for me. Once it was out there, there would be no going back. It wasn’t something I wanted to be identified with. It was something that happened a long time ago, another lifetime in many ways. I didn’t want to hurt anyone or stir up unnecessary questions or trouble by repeating old stories. Yet something was telling me to do this.
I have no scars as some do. The sexual abuse I experienced as a child and the date rape in college were not physically violent. They were emotionally painful. They stunted my selfhood. They challenged my ability to be physically intimate. I was lucky. Some women suffer unspeakable, horrific violence…things so unimaginably painful.
My experiences contributed to who I am now, but they do not define me. I rarely think about or relive my past as I used to many years ago, and when I do, I am no longer pulled into the pain and confusion of that time and space. In fact, very little emotional charge remains for me today. This is the result of many years spent in personal transformation work.
However, the decision to bring it out publicly awakened me to some of the residual emotions still stored in my psyche…mostly around the shame of others knowing and somehow seeing me differently. How could I be part of One Billion Rising and keep quiet about my own story? I had to face the resistance to admitting this…again…after all this time. Sharing my experience is a part of me walking my talk.
Now is the time for speaking up, and I am ready to embrace what at one time nearly broke me because what nearly broke me is what has given me the compassion, courage, and wisdom to do what I do. Our stories are meant to be triumphant tales and a source of inspiration to both ourselves and others. That is why I’ve chosen to share mine.
I no longer bear hatred or anger towards my abusers. I forgave myself long ago and freed myself of the mental replays that tortured me for years. Though my physical life was never threatened, some would say I am a survivor. Personally, I think survivor is a terrible word! It’s rings with the energy that whatever happened is always with you, haunting you. Instead, I consider myself a phoenix. Something stronger and more beautiful arose out of the flames of my experiences.
I have a voice. I choose to use it to end the insanity in me and my world. Women and girls, men and boys…we all deserve a life free of violence, bloodshed, corruption, and abuse. We all have a right to a peaceful, healthy existence.