Sign up for our e-newsletter!

Enter again to confirm.
News

Donate

Share This Page

Newsroom

"Please Join us in Stretching to Mend the Part of the World That is Within our Reach"

I stand here today at our 29th Annual Report to the Community.  My heart is full and breaking at the same time.

I remember our Report 20 years ago when Jill Cahill lay dying in her hospital bed, poisoned by her husband.

  • I remember 27 years ago when Anita Hill testified about being sexually harassed.
  • Last night another teenager was killed in the heart of our City.
  • Immigrants and refugees in our country have never been more afraid.
  • People of color feel unsafe walking down the street, selling lemonade, sleeping in a dorm or sitting in a restaurant.

Some days I wake up and think about how far we have come:

  • the change in conversations with police and DA’s
  • the community’s awareness and passion about preventing sexual and relationship violence, and
  • new laws and policies at the state and federal level.

And then there are days I wake up with a heavy heart, feeling a bit hopeless and like nothing at all has changed.

Of course, the truth is somewhere in the middle.  I have been thinking a lot about the Chutes and Ladders game of my childhood, which I always hated, where you work to get to the end point and then you hit those darn spaces that send you back aways. 

They send you back, but they do not stop you.  We will not be stopped. We cannot be stopped.

Our national leaders have said many things in recent weeks that are like taking a knife and stabbing it into the heart of every survivor, and it is not only our national leaders.  In lunchrooms and living rooms, across social media survivors are hearing, “we don’t believe you…if it happened, why wouldn’t you have told right away?”, and “even if what you said were true, it isn’t that big a deal….boys will be boys, this is typical teenage behavior…”

Some simple truths I have learned over these 28 years at Vera House:

  1. Start by believing survivors.  They usually have much more to lose than to gain by coming forward.
  2. Understand traumatic memories, that elements of the experience are imprinted on the brain, never to be forgotten, often to be re-experienced.  Details that were not part of the actual trauma often fade from memory.  This is neuroscience.
  3. Know that people who commit domestic violence or sexual assaults are not typically hurtful to everyone around them nor are they hurtful all the time to those they victimize.  This is critically important.  We have to understand that likeable people do terrible things sometimes.  I learned this best from my own experience when my favorite high school teacher made sexual advances on me during my freshman year of college.  Before that incident, I would have told you that he was one of the nicest, most sensitive and caring people that I had ever known.

Two thousand years ago, Rabbi Tarfon said, “Don’t be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.  Live justly, love mercy and walk humbly now.  You are not expected to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”  Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching to mend the part that is within our reach.”

Please join us in stretching to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

No video selected.
Font size: + - reset
United WayFriend Us On FacebookFollow Us On TwitterFollow Us On YouTube