Update: Voices is officially launched! If you’d like to learn more about how you, or someone you love, can share their story, please visit Voices Story Project here.
Yesterday was the first day I truly dreaded going to work. Because on the other side of the Hudson, not even six ice teas would take the edge off having to curate Trump videos for hours on end. For the last 18 months when a Trump video would trend, it was easy to brush it off with a laugh, “How crazy is this redheaded walking STD! What a joke!” But today, with protests around New York and this unshakeable heaviness that is holding the country hostage, it’s the opposite of a joke. My dad and I equated watching Trump win the election to watching the school bully win your entire childhood. The guy whose campaign is based on everything you’re taught not to be — hateful, racist, violent, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist. A man who can sexually assault over 11 women, admit it on camera, and still become president with no repercussions. It feels heartbreaking and disillusioning and scary, and the best I can do for now is hold my loved ones close and take time to process.
But please, do not feel a pressure to heal at any quicker pace than you need. It might be tomorrow, it might be a month from now, but you will once again stand on your two feet, clad in armor, and ready to fight for the equality that you so believe in. I have no doubt of this, but in order to move forward, you must first take care of yourself. Might I recommend a chicken pot pie?
I’ve been brainstorming this idea for a while now and today seemed like the right day to announce it. You see, I started Voices story project back in college as a way to empower survivors of sexual and dating violence through narrative storytelling. I recorded survivors stories and then gave them the choice of how they’d like their story shared (online, with counselors, just a copy for themselves). I was in the process of moving it to UCLA when I got the news I’d be moving to New York, and since then, I’ve been lost on how to continue it. In the past two years, I’ve had many conversations about giving it up because in New York, I have no road map of where to take it or how to make it possible. I don’t know any universities who need it here, I have no contacts, shoot — I don’t even know if people would want to talk to me any more! But like a long lost lover, I can’t seem to let Voices go. I daydream about its future on long walks and find myself chatting about it over beers with friends. But I’ve also been so afraid of it failing that I haven’t taken even the littlest step forward with it and this needs to change.
I can’t just sit by and let survivors be silenced and disempowered. Voices was founded as a space for survivors to reclaim the words used against them and to encourage others to do the same. And today, I believe we need that more than ever.
So it’s with great pleasure — and a lot of nerves — that I’m happy to announce Voices will be restarting in January 2017! It will just be me behind it this time and I will be doing interviews with any survivor who wants to share their story. Following out interview, I will write up the survivor’s story and they can choose whether they’d like to keep the copy for themselves or share it on Voices blog. My goal is to build a community of stories that will not only empower and educate others about sexual assault, but to show the strength and resilience of these survivors in the wake of trauma.
With January just around the corner, a new photo needs to be taken, all new language written up, calls made, posts shared, and a lot of fingers crossed. Any or all advice would be appreciated and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s nerve wracking and scary but it feels right and I hope you’ll join me along the way.
Until then, I’m sending you a huge hug and a kitten because today I imagine, just like me, you need that too.