For this post, I promised my friend Thomas that I would share a story.
A few months ago, Thomas used the word “rape” and I immediately reprimanded him. It was not used maliciously – in fact he meant it as a joke – but we all know that certain words ignite anger. This is one of those words. I told Thomas the reason the word made me uncomfortable, and how sometimes humor can offend even if the intent is not ill. So instead of “rape,” Thomas promised me that he would speak about famous women and say he wanted to have “aggressive consensual sex” with them.
Words have power. And sometimes even friends don’t realize how the things that they say can be hurtful. So speak up.
Here is a painting inspired by a photograph I took in Guyana…
The End the Silence (ETS) Campaign is a forum designed to help survivors of sexual violence find their voice and use it through the medium of creative expression. I say forum because the website is just the first step. Starting in November, ETS will host its very first weekly writing workshop for survivors focusing on poetry, prose, public speaking, and performance. This workshop will kick-off here in Pittsburgh, and I am hoping that it can expand and serve as a vehicle for survivors to unite and let their voices be heard.
Throughout the next few posts, I will be talking about some of the issues related to sexual violence through the lens of creative writing. You will read excerpts from some of my favorite writers, and I hope that you can suggest other writers that might be helpful.
Also, I encourage everyone to submit their own creative work – poetry, prose, and visual art – to ETS. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions are welcome from survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones. The experience of a loved one is incredibly important and very unique, and it should not be neglected when talking about this issue.
It takes incredible courage and strength to share ANY written work with the public, especially something that explores such an impactful issue. The work included on this site is written by a truly amazing group of survivors.
The Blogathon is starting! One post down and 48 to go! This is going to be a crazy ride, but I want to say thank you to all of the people who believed enough in this cause to support me. I couldn’t do it without you! So far, I’ve raised just over $1,250 and I hope to keep that number growing throughout the day.
Today I will be blogging a collection of different things. I will be writing about issues that relate to rape and sexual violence, I will be posting original creative writing and poetry, and I will also just be blogging some random thoughts to keep me awake!
Ok, here we go!
“How come you didn’t scream?” He asked, the body of a boy wearing the face of a man.
How could she tell him that the scream sulked away in the night and abandoned her there? Just like the way we are helplessly silent in dreams, she opened her mouth and only the heat of breath emerged. Breath free of noise, free of the desperate cry that twisted inside in her throat. She reached her hand inside her throat but her fingers touched only the softness of her own spit. Perhaps the scream was hiding in the warm sponge beneath her tongue. Maybe it had circled, lost, in the maze of her closed teeth. Wherever it was, it was lost and no matter how she wiggled her fingers around in her mouth, it remained hidden.
(excerpt from We Are All Made of Stardust, by Emily Monroe)
Why are we silent? When we most need our words, they suddenly disappear. Fickle friends. Sometimes we are all silent. Sometimes there are things we want to say, but can’t quite summon the words. Maybe once you wanted to tell someone that you loved them. And you didn’t. Maybe once you wanted to ask for forgiveness. And you didn’t. Maybe once you wanted to ask for help. And you didn’t.
But maybe the words are there. Maybe they are just waiting. Waiting for a vehicle, for a story, for a poem, for a VOICE.
The End the Silence campaign wants your story! Whether it is a realistic narrative, a work of fiction, or a poem, your story has the power to open paths of communication and inspire and educate others.
Please send submissions to email@example.com so that your story can appear on the site and inspire others.
I am still clearly in the process of building the site, so please excuse the mess!
Welcome to End the Silence. This brand-new campaign strives to eliminate the stigma of silence surrounding rape and sexual violence by encouraging survivors to speak and asking the community to listen.
Through stories, prose, and art, End the Silence strives to help survivors find their voices and help families and friends of survivors understand the truth about sexual violence.
Please stay posted for coming updates!