I’m so grateful to my readers for the outpouring of support in response to the publication of He Was My Grandfather, my story of being silenced for telling my story of childhood sexual abuse. The response has been as astounding as it’s been affirming. I thank everyone who sent messages of support by email, by phone, by comment online, on my blog, and on social media.
As sad as I am to forgo my radio audience, I’m intensely gratified to find such remarkable support at home and on line. Thank you.
I’m as humbled as I am gratified: many of you shared with me your own stories of family abuse and decades of silence. Thank you for trusting me with your stories; I hope that voicing them brings you both relief and freedom from shame.
WHAT WE ARE LEARNING FROM SPEAKING UP
What we are learning from this very public discussion of what’s traditionally been a very private shame is that our memories of these traumatic events are particular in peculiar ways: we remember sounds, smells, cracks in the ceiling, but not necessarily the facts of time, place, date – the facts that stand up in court.
That some media outlets with national distribution, like The Washington Post, and other, intensely local papers, like The Commons, are willing to publish these accounts means that we are breaking the silence that has previously allowed people to deny that children are sexually abused by family members, that women are assaulted by frat boys, and that women are harassed at work. Those who’ve not experienced this behavior are starting to learn that it is as commonplace as it is commonly denied. And we’re learning that speaking up about it is the first step toward bringing it to an end.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
On a personal note, this entire episode has expanded my appreciation for living locally, what I call Living in Place. I’ve been engaged in local foods since moving to Vermont in 1984, and with local, restorative justice since 2007. I’ve been posting essays both pointed and poetic on my blog, Living in Place, since 2014.
The blog doesn’t have the reach of VPR, but I hope my former listeners and my new readers will find me there. Rather than sanitize my work for broadcast, I will be free to drill down into the loam of what’s going on right here.
But none of this would have come out were it not for our local, independent weekly and Jeff Potter, editor of The Commons. To have this paper in our community is yet another blessing of Living in Place.
I post an essay every Wednesday, or thereabouts. By subscribing, you will have these sometimes entertaining, sometimes educational and sometimes irritating essays delivered to your inbox. By subscribing, you also let me know there’s a reader on the other side of the page. It makes a difference – and earns my thanks.