Believe Them

As a survivor I am always troubled when I see another survivor suffer.  I view this as both my burden and my gift.  I will always feel deeply for the suffering of others but I will also always work as hard as I can to end that suffering.

As an advocate I have always had my moments, usually alone in the car, when I silently cry for those I have served.  For the lives I have touched.  Part of me hopes to one day live in a world
where I never have to cry, but the other part is grateful I was able to be there for that survivor.

I watched a YouTube video today that was posted by the late Amanda Todd.  Amanda was 15 years old when she committed suicide.  Amanda was in the 7th grade when a man on the  Internet preyed on her and convinced her to flash the webcam her breasts.  The same man later threatened to expose the pictures to her family and friends if she didn’t show him more.  He followed through with that threat, and sent Amanda on a downward spiral that eventually led to her death.  She was depressed, her friends abandoned her and she felt completely alone.

A child can never consent to any sexual act, including flashing a camera.  A child is vulnerable and in need of guidance and support.  Amanda was looking for someone who believed in her the day she found a man on the Internet who told her she was beautiful.

Predators prey on those with low self esteem.  Those who can be easily built up just before they are broken down.  Predators exist because we as a society fail to protect the vulnerable.  We fail to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

No child should ever feel so alone that they would turn to the attention of a stranger.  No child should, but a shocking number of them do every day.  Parents, teachers, relatives, friends all
have the ability to change and potentially save a life.  We all have the ability to notice when another human being is suffering.  The response can be as simple as asking a person how they are doing.  Telling someone that you pass on the street that you like their outfit.  Letting another human being know that they are not alone.

Amanda felt alone, like many victims do.  She also felt as though she was to blame for what happened.  No victim should ever feel alone and every victim should know that it was not their fault.

I came to work for WEAVE because I knew it was an opportunity to be a supportive voice for victims who may not have another.  What I didn’t expect, but am humbled by daily, is the impact on my life this work has had.  Every victim I help also helps me.  They help me to realize that this community, this world, can be changed by one single act of kindness.  Everything around us can be impacted by just one person standing up for what is right.

I support and stand by WEAVE, and will forever, because I know what it is to be a victim without a voice.  Today I am lucky because I have learned what it is to give a victim a voice too.

Amanda Todd could have been a bright light in this world, but she was lost.  If you know a victim of violence, in any form, please be an advocate for them.  Give them the most powerful gift anyone can give.  Believe them.

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Filed under Community Voices, Sexual Assault, Staff Voices, Survivor Voices

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