When we first started A Voice For The Innocent, one of the main objectives was to normalize the conversation about sexual violence by creating safe places for people to tell their stories. A primary reason that sexual abuse and rape is able to be so prevalent is because it’s a silent crime. Those affected are pushed into silence, and for that reason, it can be extremely difficult for people to step forward.
One of the ways that we are attempting to break down the social barriers that make it hard for people to come forward is by holding storytelling events called Speak Up Saturdays. We invite a handful of storytellers, poets, and musicians to come out and tell stories; sometimes through their artistic work, and sometimes through outright storytelling. And we don’t only allow people to share their stories of sexual assault. If we are trying to normalize the conversation, we have to have normal stories too, right? So there is a mixture of heavy stories, funny stories, and all others as well, including poetry and music. We have only had a few of these events, but the are really, really great nights. People are leaving feeling empowered, connected, and with an overall sense of belonging.
I wanted to share with you two stories from our event in May 2015. One is Erin’s story about things she endured growing up. And the other is a story I told that night. I figured most people knew my story that started AVFTI, so I decided to tell one that’s a bit different, and a bit more lighthearted. Both are below.