In anticipation of National Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, Brooks Memorial Library, The Women’s Freedom Center, and The Commons are collaborating with writer and educator Deborah Lee Luskin in Telling Our Stories, a free writing workshop for survivors of sexual abuse and violence. Luskin will facilitate the workshop at the library on three Saturdays: March 14, 21 and April 4 from 10 – 1. An advocate from The Women’s Freedom Center will be present to offer support as needed. The workshop is free, and participants are encouraged to attend as many sessions as possible.
Telling Our Stories will culminate in a public reading at the library on Wednesday, April 15 at 7 PM. Survivors willing to share their work with the community can submit it to a special section of the Voices section of The Commons; provisions will be available to do so anonymously, if necessary.
Luskin says the goal of Telling Our Stories is two-fold: “First, by sharing our stories, we hope to make known how many of us have survived sexual abuse and assault, and by doing so, help end it. We also aim to teach those entrusted with our stories of harm how to respond respectfully and responsibly.” She adds, “I experienced first-hand how a survivor can be re-victimized by those who don’t want to hear her story – and so the curtain of silence falls on what is an all-too common occurrence in the lives of women and girls.”
From Anita Hill’s remarkable testimony during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991 to that of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavenaugh in 2018, uncounted and unnamed women and girls have suffered sexual violence in silence. More recently, women in entertainment and politics have spoken up. “But speaking out is difficult,” Luskin says. “Women who tell their stories are not always believed and are often blamed for their perpetrators’ behavior.” Nor is hearing our stories of sexual abuse and assault pleasant. Worse, it’s often easier to bury our stories than to hold influential men who have preyed upon us accountable. Luskin adds, “It seems nearly impossible for ordinary women without the cachet of fame, beauty or influence to do speak out. In Windham County, we have a chance to change this pattern by Telling Our Stories and teaching our audience how we can be heard.”
Brooks Memorial Library is located at 224 Main Street in Brattleboro; the library’s mission aims “to inspire, inform and empower our diverse community.” The Women’s Freedom Center is a feminist organization committed to offering support and advocacy aimed toward creating a community in which violence is not tolerated. The Commons is a local, independent weekly newspaper, part of whose mission includes creating a forum for community participation. Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, educator and former commentator at Vermont Public Radio who told her story of sexual abuse in The Commons when VPR refused to allow her to use the word “grandfather” to identify her abuser. Currently, she publishes a mostly weekly blog and facilitates the Rosefire Writing Circle. Learn more at https://www.deborahleeluskin.com Ask questions at https://www.deborahleeluskin.com/contact