A few weeks ago, I got an invitation via Facebook to go to an event called Take Back The Night. My gut reaction was, “Heck no!”
Take Back The Night is a night for survivors of sexual assault, friends, family, and the community to get together to raise awareness about sexual violence. At some point my adamant, “Heck no!” turned into, “Maybe I should consider going.”
On my way into town, I called my mom and asked her to join me. She served on Hope Harbor‘s Board and had been to Take Back The Night in the past. She accepted the invite.
I’m not a survivor of rape but as a former chronic worrier, that violent act has always been near the top of Sarah B’s Top 10 Fear List.
Even now that I’ve learned I can’t control ANYTHING but how I choose to react to what happens, and now that overwhelming daily fear and worry is a distant memory, self defense comes to mind from time to time. What would I do if someone tried to hurt me? Jujitsu? Pray and hope for the best?
Going that night was important because I wanted to take the first step to acknowledge and deal with my fear.
I didn’t know what to expect but I felt like I was in for an emotional night.
We walked into the church’s fellowship hall and the room was full of mostly women, but plenty of men, children, and dogs as well.
A group from a fraternity had on shirts about respect.
We registered and got our free t-shirts.
A woman from Hope Harbor gave an introduction and some statistics.
If I remember correctly, in Kentucky 47% of women and 20% of men are sexually assaulted. That number is higher than the national average. What the heck KY?!
A teenage girl, named Abigail took the stage next. As soon as she started talking I teared up. I don’t do live events very well. Abigail said she would be the voice for those that didn’t feel like they had one. I reigned in my emotions as she went on to deliver a passionate spoken word poem about being strong enough to slay her own Monsters.
After Abigail and two rounds of applause, a university student got up and broke her 2 year silence about having been raped. She talked about hope and not letting this act of violence define her.
After the girls spoke, the lot of us took to the streets and marched around the city square and a couple of blocks.
My mom and I may or may not have skipped that last block and taken a short cut back to the church.
When everybody else got back, there was a candle light vigil and a group singing of This Little Light of Mine, followed by a moment of silence for the survivors present.
Everyone was then invited to an art show and live music at The FFOYA House, a couple of streets over.
My mom sat in the car while I popped in to look at the art. As I walked around the house looking at the art, I listened in as the women around me introduced themselves to one another and traded credentials. This one teaches social work on campus. That one works at The International Center. As is the theme of my life these days, I stood there asking myself what it is I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
What’s holding me back? Fear? Fear of change? Fear of hard work? Fear of picking the wrong path? Fear of making a move when the most important work I could be doing is in my own home? These are the people that need me more than anybody else. BUT!…will I make a bigger difference in their lives if I push myself to grow, give myself more earning power, and have myself set up to provide fully for them in case tragedy strikes or should my sometimes rocky marriage ultimately crumble?
An image from the night that had a huge impact on me about the reality of what we were all there for, was a cute little girl about 5 years old with dark skin and brightly colored clothes. She was stomping happily in a rain puddle while holding up a sign about innocence.
What am I supposed to be doing with my life?
I’m blessed to call Bill Cumming my friend. He’s worked for 30 years to do his part to end violence and he’s invited me into this work with him. He began his important work after realizing he had the capacity to kill the man that raped his then 8 year old daughter.
When I see people in pain from daily hardship or hear of violence, I feel like part of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life is to connect them to Bill and his program, What One Person Can Do. He’s conducted this life changing program in schools, churches, prisons, corporations, with individuals, and is currently working with the Vermont Air National Guard.
Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’m going to try to get Bill to Take Back The Night next year as a speaker.
If you haven’t watched Bill’s Tedx Talk yet, what are you waiting for?
Would you like to have a conversation with Bill or me about this program or about any possibilities that came up for you while you were watching? You can reach us here.
As I was driving into town that night, and my mom and I were discussing the event to come, facing my fear of bodily harm and the pesky details of the unknown future were playing in the back of my mind. Even though I spend a minuscule amount of time fearful or worried these days, I noticed that night that I still have plenty of fears yet to conquer and except for sky diving, I’m up for the challenge. Bring it!
Much love and peace!