Tag Archives: listening

Stopping to Remember What It’s All About

screen-shot-2013-08-20-at-9-46-51-am.pngIt’s hard to believe that all the work that has gone into this book will shortly be unveiled in a matter of weeks. The contributors’ voices and bravery to write, edit, and share their hope reminds me everyday that this book will go where it most needs to be: into the hands of survivors and into the hearts of their communities.

Two weeks ago, I was inundated with tasks to ready for the release. In preparing for a national book tour and also for local launch party, the To Do list rapidly morphed into an anxiety provoking reminder of all the work that needs to be done.

One morning, I went to research a local space for the Cleveland launch and met with a restaurant manager who owns the funky urban space I was eyeing. He was from Ireland and landed in Cleveland by way of New York and after going through the details of space and timing of the event, asked me what the book was about.

I took a breath, bracing myself for the typical raised eyebrow and silence that has usually met my response when I say, “It’s an anthology by survivors of sexual violence, written for other survivors and their communities.”

But this man was different. He dropped his arms, calmly placed one hand over the other and lowered his voice, “You know,” he shook his head sadly, “I’ve been working in restaurants for all my life. I treat my staff respectfully and I like to have a relationship with them. I’ve learned to listen and some of their stories, especially from the girls on staff, are just…” He shook his head.

I nodded, knowing where he was going.

He looked like he was trying to understand something beyond his or our realm of understanding, “There were just so many of them who told me that THAT had happened to them.”

“They were survivors.”

“Yes. They are survivors.”

It reminded me why this book is so powerful. It reminded me that these small wonderful details are necessary tracks to lay before the power dialogues can begin. Survivors are everywhere. Listeners are everywhere.

Now we just need to connect.

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Dear Sister Anthology News! It’s Going to be Published!

It’s something of a miracle to write this piece of news: I’ve accepted an offer to publish the Dear Sister anthology.

I’d like to say that the road was high and long, but that’d be a lie.  There was no road.  There was only an organic hope and prayer that this project would lead by its own light.  There was no path, just a community of supporters with bottomless wells of patience.  There was no foundation, just a lot of hands to help shape it into the manuscript it is today.

For the past twelve years, I have thought about rape everyday.  Every day it has crossed my mind in some fashion.  Whether it was working with a client, yelling at the television when a politician made an asinine remark, or closing my eyes as more stories invaded my conscience, reminding me that  violence, ignorance, oppressive forces, and misogyny are, sadly, everywhere.  There’s no escaping it.

I wish I could anthologize a book that ended sexual violence.  I wish I could have pieced together a preventative book that outlined 1-2-3 steps to protect communities or a blueprint on how to teach that sexual activity can be good, wonderful, and amazing when consent is clearly given.  But, I can’t write that book.  I don’t think anyone can.  Instead, I created a book for the aftermath.  A book that doesn’t pretend. A book about survival.  It is a collection of stories and letters for the survivors who have not yet found their way from survivors who somehow did.  Dear Sister is the letter no one wants to write, but so many need to recieve.

Listening, believing, uplifting survivors is the only way forward.  Our political and societal ethos have created an illusory world where rape is inevitable, almost permissible, making us believe that we have to accept the violence, exist in fear, and criminalize the survivor to make order of the chaos.  Rape culture tells us that this is the real world and we must exist in it. Abide by it.

I, for one, want out.  This is one step toward the exit sign.

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