I gave a talk last week to the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club in Millsboro, Delaware at their early morning meeting. I was invited to do so by an acquaintance that knows about my project and is a member of the Club. I was grateful for the opportunity and a little nervous about what to say about this project and so on. I decided to call it “The Education of Dave”. I talked about going from knowing of domestic violence from TV and one or two survivors, to finding out the national statistics are 1 woman in 4 will experience it here in the US. I talked about part of my education being that pretty much every woman in the US has already been or is going to be intimidated, groped, otherwise assaulted or killed by a guy (or more than once). This was related to me by a few of the survivors and confirmed when I talked to (many!) other women about my project and none said “Oh, no Dave, it’s not every single woman” I talked a little about the Still Waters show and it’s affect on folks and some of the photographic choices we made for the project too.The Rotary members thanked me at the end of the talk. They were kind, gracious and sharing. Perhaps a little shaken too.
An interesting aside: In part of my talk, I talked about posting the very first survivor’s post, and how I spent about 20 minutes ready to hit the publish button, but wondering if it was going to help, had I done everything right, would there be harm to the survivor and so on. At the end of the meeting, it is the custom of Rotary Clubs to stand and and recite one of their Guiding Principles called The Four Way Test:
“Of the things we think, say or do
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”
I was struck that the last two elements were closely tied to this project and my hesitations before publishing the first post. Slightly modified I wanted to be sure the project and posts would build up survivors and help others who needed it, and would it be safe and beneficial to all.
A couple of observations:
- This isn’t a particularly fun subject at it’s core. I felt like i was leading some folks through the Holocaust Museum. Folks want to know, but facing evil straight on is hard…
- I could tell a few folks were hurting from it. They thanked me at the end for giving the talk, but I need to figure out what to do with that when it happens. I suspect it’s going to happen any time I give a talk on the subject or the project. I tried to handle it with grace and empathy.
- At the end of the talk, one of the ladies related that she had been groped at the Pumpkin Chunkin event just a few months ago. This stuff is a real battle Every.Damned.Day for the women in our country. I never knew til a few years ago. The Social Justice Warriors call that “Male Privilege”. It used to irritate me to hear that term, but, if the shoe fits… I’m doing my best with this project to help others, but yeah…
- Domestic Violence is ugly. It’s hidden for lots of reasons. I’ve been processing my reaction to giving the talk for the last week. The talk was hard to do, and the processing probably still isn’t over. Truth be told, I felt a little beat up afterwards. (Not by the Rotary club, they were awesome!) This is rough stuff. However… I signed up for the job of talking about it to bring it into the light. If the survivors can share their stories, I can do my job by honoring that trust and sharing their stories and truths with others. We can make a difference. Maybe not for all the starfish, but certainly for the ones we can reach.
Thanks again to the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club for the invitation to share the project.
If you’d like me to talk about the project at your meeting or event, please contact me!