Tonight was an outdoor event focused on putting an end to slut shaming and the support of rape survivors. It was a beautiful evening with twinkle lights, spoken word, and the occasional raindrop. There was a protester with a sign, but 25 anti-rape violence signs to drown it out. Did I mention it was beautiful outside tonight? I live for this weather.
I've been to quite a few anti-sexual violence events, and they've all touched me; every single one. Every one brings a little more healing, and a little more understanding, and a little more community. But tonight... tonight was different.
There was an open mic, and all the stories and poems shared by women were wonderfully honest. Powerful. Grounded. I nodded my head with each one. But then a man took his turn. Red bandanna. Worn jeans. Said he was on his way to smoke a joint and grab a beer when he saw the protester's sign. It upset him, and he decided to join because he, too, has been raped. Once when he was 14, and once only a few years ago. He reiterated that he didn't ask for it. That rape knows no gender boundaries. And then he did something so genuine. So touching, I didn't know what else to do but cry.
For everyone who never heard an apology. Who had been hurt. Who had survived. He said "sorry" for those who wouldn't; he apologized for our trauma and grief. He then thanked us for allowing him to join us... and then quietly left the stage.
I hugged him before I left; thanked him for sharing. His hug lasted forever and I'll probably always want to hug strangers from now on. Multiple levels of healing. I left after not even an hour; life pretty much changed.
I'm so sorry if you have been hurt. I'm sorry that this pain became a part of your life. I'm sorry if you didn't know what it meant at the time. I'm sorry if you knew exactly what happened and how it would affect you. I'm sorry that we live in a world that turns a blind eye. I'm sorry if no one believed you. I'm sorry if they believed but didn't know how to help. I'm sorry if you thought it was your fault. I'm sorry if you were never hugged when you shared, and I'm sorry if you've never felt comfortable sharing. I'm sorry you will forever see the world differently, but please know that you're not alone. You are not alone, will never be alone, and you have my promise that I will fight for change until the very end.
Thank you Rick, for being there tonight.
It healed a little piece on the inside.
Know that you are not alone, will never be alone, and you have my promise that I will fight for change until the very end.