On April 14th, I will be speaking at the Clothesline Project in Bristol, Virginia. This opportunity came at a pivotal time for me. As some of you know, during the season of Lent I have given up lying to myself as a part of my efforts to live a better story. Total self-honesty has presented a real challenge! But in telling myself the truth, I also found myself understanding my own motivations better, and as a part of that, I began to pray about my work with and for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. When I told myself the truth about how healing it is for me to share my story with others, I began to pray for more opportunities to do that. The next day, I received a message from the RAINN Speakers Bureau, calling for members to assist the Bristol Crisis Center with their Clothesline Project, which is designed to break the silence about and raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault and domestic violence in our area.
The event will take place at the farmers' market on State Street in Bristol. There will be music and refreshments and booths with resources for those who attend. Survivors will be encouraged to make tee-shirts that relate in some way to their experiences with violence. We hope to form a living clothesline of survivors and their friends, who will put a human face on the epidemic of domestic and sexual violence. It is easy to listen to statistics like "one in four" or "one in three" and just ignore them; after all, they are only numbers. It is much harder to look into the haunted face of someone who has suffered and continue to ignore that suffering.
I am proud to be a part of this project and to help others heal by showing that it is possible to reclaim your life after violence. It is another part of my story that is worth telling, worth remembering, and worth sharing. Keep watching this space - the story is just beginning.