My Talk at the University of Idaho
I was recently invited to tell my story of childhood sexual abuse to a class at the University of Idaho. While I've blogged about my experience of abuse, shaming, and recovery for several years now, this talk marked the first time I've ever spoken publicly about it. The experience of sharing my story in real time and engaging with an audience was really special for me. I feel honored to have had this opportunity to speak, and have also been asked to speak at several other upcoming abuse awareness functions over the next several months.
I feel like this is the beginning of a new phase of advocacy for me, and one that I'm eager to embrace.
I wrote this on Facebook after my talk at the University, and thought I'd include it here as well, as a preface to the video shared at the bottom of this post:
My goal in telling my story is not to present a sob story, shock anyone, or to demonize any of the people in my story. I want to raise awareness. I want to de-stigmatize talking about sexual abuse. I want to help victims shed their shame by showing them that finding their voices may be terrifying but it is also so powerful and it can change so many lives, not just their own.
It's also important to make people aware of the fact that our culture, and specifically many churches in our culture, provide environments where abuse can thrive. Perpetrators repent and are too readily believed, while victims suffer further shame because of a general ignorance about how to support and love them.
As we begin to have more open dialogue about these issues I'm hopeful that we will see more healing and connection for victims and more awareness and prevention in the general population.
What does it take to begin moving toward these changes?
Empathy, understanding, unconditional and judgment-free love, practical support, and a willingness to truly listen to someone who is suffering.
Many thanks to Professor Ryanne Pilgeram for creating this and other opportunities for me.
And a heartfelt thanks to Peter Roise as well, for giving his time and talent to come and film the talk and do all the video/sound editing.