oOver the course of a week in January, 204 women and girls read victim impact statements at the Larry Nassar sentencing hearing. The judge in the case gave all of his sexual abuse victims the chance to come forward, read their statements in front of the world, and force their abuser to hear what they had to say.
It was almost a full year later before I listened to the NPR podcast called Believed. It’s an investigative journalism story about the victims of Larry Nassar and how they finally put him away.
This case had a tremendous effect on me. I was inspired by the bravery and power of this huge collection of women getting together to unleash the truth. But, I wasn’t just moved that they were speaking up NOW. Many of them had spoken up BEFORE. They reported it to police, parents, child protective services, and medical licensing agencies. It shouldn’t surprise you that until 2018, their stories had been silenced or not believed—filed away as misunderstandings.
During the week of the Kavanaugh hearing, I yelled at my co-worker. He was upset that someone’s career could be ruined over an accusation of an incident that happened in high school. He was frustrated that because of the #metoo movement, he would have to have tough conversations with his teenage boys about how to navigate this new world.
I listened to him talk. Then, I RAGED.
I was angry hearing him complain about having to talk to his sons. As a survivor, I was all too familiar with feeling careful, scared, shy, and hyper vigilant. The fire in my voice when I responded to him caught me off guard. I’m sure it caught him off guard too. But if I’m honest, expressing my anger was euphoric.
My outburst helped us both understand each other a little better. I felt compassion that he was scared and wanted to protect his boys. I also realized how dangerous it is when we don’t take the time to really listen to the experiences, perspectives, and struggles of others. Moving forward, I’m trying to open my mind to learn more from other genders, races, and cultures who view the world differently than me. I’m sharing more of my stories with others too.
2018 was named a “year of the woman.” Looking back, so much has changed in how I operate.
Here’s a few intentions I've been working on that I’m carrying into 2019:
If you were also moved by the victims in the Larry Nassar case, please join me and complete the “From Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children” course that shows adults how to protect children from sexual abuse.
Take the training at D2L.org. Use the promo code FLIPTHESWITCH to get it for free.
From Darkness to Light trains adults to follow five steps to protect children: learn the facts, minimize opportunity, talk about it, recognize the signs, and react respsonsibly.