Observations - #WhenIBecameFree
I am getting close to the final stages of the #WhenIBecameFree project. I have collected quite a few survivor stories, with more coming in over the next week or so. When I initially started this project back in 2015 I had a plan, well, that plan changed. At first, I planned on reaching out and collecting stories from the rural Heartland of America - I had it in my mind to get in my falling apart vehicle and set out on a trek, a search and document that journey.
Soon after starting the project my life changed and my responsibilities at work tripled. The time I once had was now a thing of the past. Then there was my son's adventure, Kyle. His dream of becoming a musician started taking off, and being that he was (and still is) under-age, I needed to be at his performances. I needed to be there for myself, him, and for legal reasons - he was a sixteen/ seventeen-year-old kid performing bars with a band. No doubt my watchful eye as his mother was going to be right there with him - I would have it no other way.
That was then, this is now - and, as I've always said, Everything Happens for a Reason. The last couple of weeks has once again strengthened my belief in that saying. The project has been guiding itself. Survivors of abuse are stepping forward and I haven't had to look far. Their stories are inspiring even though they all contain pain and heartache. Their experiences relay the shocking realities of child sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. The stories are real, raw, and told by brave people, many of whom have never before spoken out about the trauma they survived.
With that change, I hope is the realization that anyone can be victimized. The people we pass every day on the street, see in the store, in church, there are many who have or are going home to a nightmare. Back when I was a reporter covering stories at the local schools, I can remember sitting in on an assembly and I would scan the faces of the children, wondering which ones held a secret I once did. Statistics tell me that many of them did or that many of them were going home to a war zone and witnessing the people they love most, battle. Imagine that child's living Hell.
Earlier this week I met with a woman named Kristi. She was nervous when I first arrived at her home. She granted me permission to videotape her interview - yes, she's a brave woman. Her nerves soon dissipated, I could tell - it was obvious as her story flowed out of her. She spoke about being a young girl, growing up with an emotionally distant mother and feeling so alone. The exact type of target groomers look for, and yes, one found her. Her childhood ended when a pedophile entered her realm.
Sadly, she carried that wound for many years, too many years. Healing found her decades later when her own daughter was victimized by an older teen. Her daughter is a beautiful young lady with special needs, needless to say she was vulnerable. Her attack happened just in a matter of minutes and without any indicators that she was being targetted.
Kristi would soon realize that the pain she, herself, endured as a child was about to boil over as she dealt with her own daughter's trauma. Their story is complex and, again, points to not only the lack of understanding in our society but also the resources public service announcements tell us are readily available, they weren't and they're not.
The details of Kristi story, along with the video, will be published when the #WhenIBecameFree project is completed. It will shock many people, because, remember- she is from a small rural community where everyone thinks they know everything about everyone else.
Tomorrow I meet with another survivor, then on Monday, I have two appointments with survivors. As I said, all of this is falling into place. I do hope I can locate one or two more male survivors willing to tell their story. I know they are out there, and pretty sure a few are paying attention to this project coming together. It is hard for males to speak up and out about the abuse they survived, the stigma can be too much for them on top of everything else already living in their nightmares.
Well, that is where I am at in the progress of #WhenIBecameFree. I expect within the next couple of weeks I will be finished with interviews and the compiling and writing will take over. During all of this, I have also been volunteering as an advocate for anyone with a need. Believe me when I say there is a lot of need out there.
For this reason, I am leaning towards donating 50 percent of the profits to a survivors fund in Juneau County. I want that money to go straight to the people who need it the most and for whatever they need in their healing journey. I more than likely will have to create that fund and put together a committee to oversee it.
To get to that point I first need to fund the project so that it can be completed. I've dedicated most of my time to it when I have time. I cannot financially keep up at this rate so I need to be creative.
I am asking businesses to sponsor the project - more information on that can be found here.
here. If you're local to Juneau County, just email me and I will send you an invoice w/o a shipping charge.
Any and all donations are welcome! It is not easy for me to say that, but I have to admit, it is needed.
Any way you choose to support this effort is greatly appreciated! Even if it is just sharing my blog, the website, or liking and sharing the Facebook page.
Well, those are my observations and some accomplishments over the last couple of weeks....more to come...