December 16, 2010

Thanks to those who speak out…

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 pm by sacetalks

I’ve worked at SACE for 6 weeks now, and it’s been good times. I like doing presentations and I’m so impressed with how receptive the students are to the material. I’m learning a lot and I feel like I’m contributing. But there’s also an emotional side to this work. I knew that this would be the case, but at times I am caught off guard by the intensity of it. It’s particularly difficult when someone close to me discloses. For some, their experiences are in the past; they tell me their stories and this reminds me why the work we do at SACE is important. For others, they find themselves in an abusive situation and are working to get out. My first reaction is always anger at their abuser; then profound sadness that these women I love and care so much about have to endure such horrible treatment. Disclosure is often followed by gratitude; they tell me that it means a lot to them that I listen; that I am there to support them. But I’m not the one who deserves thanks– they are. Speaking out about abuse and assault is not easy; listening is the easy part. I cannot even imagine how much courage it takes to talk about this, and when I am the one who is listening, I feel honored. So I just want to say thanks, to the women (and men) who trust me enough to share their stories with me; and to all women and men who speak out about sexual assault and abuse and all the bullshit that comes with breaking the silence. Their voices are what make my work possible, and gives me meaning every time I walk into the office or stand in front of a classroom to speak with youth about sexual violence. You have my gratitude, forever and always.

By Lily Tsui

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1 Comment »

  1. Hi Lily. You’ve summed up a lot of what I felt when I first started speaking as part of RAINN’s speakers bureau (as a survivor/activist) and then began training other speakers for a state level organization. As hard as it is for me to tell my own story in front of a small group or a full auditorium, there are always others disclosing that same night for the very first time. I’m there for their benefit and I try to keep my presentations to the point and on-time in order to maximize the amount of time available to survivors and secondaries in attendance.

    I always try to read the crowd and find a few people who are clearly mustering up the courage to speak. Eye contact and a subtle, sympathetic nod can go a long way toward helping a survivor gain the confidence and security needed to be vulnerable enough to take the mike themselves.

    Like you said, it is an honor to hear their story but, doubly so to play a role in what is often their first public disclosure. More importantly though, there is always someone sitting there, mired in misplaced shame and looking for validation. Keep doing what you do. The validation is so important and the realization for the first that that you are not alone is simply indescribable.


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