Ending the Silence

First I want to say that the response to my previous post has been overwhelming. I’ve received many messages of support, and I hope that somewhere perhaps my words will help another. There is a great deal of darkness in the world. The bombings in Boston yesterday along with everything else that has been going on in the news lately confirms it. But I think Mr. Rogers says it well:

Look for the Helpers And If I didn’t believe that speaking out and sharing our lives with each other was helping, then I wouldn’t be becoming a librarian.

This Friday April 19th is Day of Silence. It is a yearly event that began as a grassroots movement by LGBTQ students and has grown into something powerful. On this day, students choose to take a form of silence to draw attention to the horrific effects of bullying on our LGBTQ youth. I have, sadly, never been able to participate. When I was in high school, it didn’t exist, when I was in college, I didn’t know about it, and since then something major has always been in my way.

This year it’s a bit ironic, or perhaps completely fitting, that on Day of Silence I’ll be defending and presenting my graduate research poster “Where the Queer Things Are: Library Services to LGBTQ Youth.” It is the culmination of several years of work and the final step toward my graduation.

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I’ve been lucky to be in a position to not only research the topic, but to actively engage with this issue in my practicum through two displays.

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I am proud to be doing what I can to end the silence.

Because this isn’t just about queer teens, or victims of sexual abuse. It’s about victims of bullying and cyber bullying and taunts and teasing and hate crimes and domestic violence and discrimination and bombs.

So, for all the people how have ever been on the receiving end of these things, just remember –You are a survivor. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but you are not alone.

I don’t know where you are in your journey. Maybe you are just coming to terms with what happened, whatever it was that happened. Maybe it happened moments ago. Maybe years. Maybe decades. Whenever it happened and wherever you are, I have some things to say to you:

It wasn’t your fault.

You are beautiful.

You are wonderful.

You are amazing.

I’m so sorry that it happened to you.

I believe you.

It wasn’t your fault.

I BELIEVE YOU AND IT WASN’T YOUR FAULT.

Amid the awful things people said to me, there were a few who said these words and I have heard them often in the past few days. I hope you have many people who say them to you but just in case you don’t, I will say them. I believe you and it wasn’t your fault.

You can do this. You can move on. You can survive. You already are a survivor. You already are amazing and strong and wonderful. You don’t have to become these things because you already are. I once knew an amazing woman who had nothing but kindness and love and compassion in her soul. She was taken from us too quickly, but she left me with a declaration that will never leave my heart.

You are a unique and unrepeatable miracle of God.

(And I don’t even believe in god.)

I won’t tell you that everything happens for a reason. Because I think that is bullshit. I can’t give you a reason or a time frame for when you’re going to start putting one foot in front of the other again. But I can tell you that you can do this.

It took me a long time to seek help. But when I did, it helped. I moved on. I pulled my life together. And in doing that– I win. Seeking help doesn’t mean you’re weak—it makes you strong.

I also want to tell you I’m sorry. I’m sorry that those who came before you have not drawn the line in the sand so clearly and so deep that it makes the Grand Canyon look small. I’m sorry that we have all failed to protect you. Stay here on this earth. Join us and help us do it now. Help us end this. We can’t do it without you.

We need you to go to college and go to work as a lawyer or a teacher or a counselor or a therapist or a blogger or a CEO or a construction worker or a ballerina or an athlete or a computer designer or whatever it is you want to do. We need you to help us stand up every day for us, for those who came before us and for those who’ll come after. We need you to grow up and teach your children or your nieces and nephews or your friends’ children or your neighborhood children to respect each other.

We need you. We need you to be a helper. We can’t do it without you.

So like the good librarian I am, I gathered some resources:

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helplinefor the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. If you ever need support, please call the Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7386”

GLSEN The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Dosomething.org DoSomething.org is the country’s largest nonprofit for young people and social change. We have 1,425,974 million members (and counting) who kick ass on causes they care about. Bullying. Homelessness. Cancer. The list goes on. DoSomething.org spearheads nationalcampaigns so 13- to 25-year-olds can make an impact – without ever needing money, an adult, or a car. Over 2.4 million people took action through DoSomething.org in 2012. You know, because apathy sucks.

No More.org NO MORE is a simple idea with the power to unleash new, major attention to the fact that there are people all around us who are hurt – directly or indirectly — by domestic violence and sexual assault. We all know someone who has been touched by this violence but still, domestic violence and sexual assault remain hidden and misunderstood.

 

 

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