|[Image from SafePlace's website for Illuminate Austin, www.illuminateatx.org]
On February 22nd, I will be joining hundreds of Austinites to walk in Illuminate Austin, an event hosted by a local organzaiton that I greatly admire, SafePlace. As explained on the Illuminate Austin website,
Illuminate Austin is an evening walk in Mueller Lake Park, along a path lined with beautiful luminarias. This fun, family-friendly event will benefit SafePlace, which provides shelter and essential services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Austin.
It’s estimated that as many as 60,000 Central Texans are living in homes where fear, violence, and abuse are the norm. As many as 4,000 rapes are committed in Austin each year — most of them unreported. Together, as a community, we can support survivors as they work to reclaim their lives, and help SafePlace raise essential funds for direct service, prevention, and education programs.
I wanted to share the reasons that I enthusiastically joined my friend Sarah's team when she asked me to participate.
I am walking because I grew up in a home with no model for a healthy relationship. I didn't know that love never came with conditions.
I am walking because no one told me that your partner isn't supposed to demean you, control your finances, and cut off access to your friends and family. I didn't know that it's abusive, not loving, to demand your attention every moment of every day. I didn't know that humiliation and mockery are not supposed to be routine parts of your day.
I am walking because I still carry scars on my heart from the words which were hurled at me like stones. For years I believed that if your body wasn't harmed, you weren't being abuse. (Perhaps if I had been a part of a program like SafePlace's Expect Respect as a teen, I would I would have learned much sooner that.)
I am walking because my friends and family are a microcosm for the 1 in 4 statistic and because our rape culture shames these survivors and blames them, not their rapists, for what happened.
I am walking because when one of my friends was raped in college, too intoxicated to consent, we didn't even have the knowledge or words to call it what it really was until 5 years later.
I am walking because when my friends need help for the abusive situations they find themselves or loved ones in, SafePlace is there for them as a beacon of hope in our community.
If you are in Central Texas, I hope you will consider joining us on February 22nd. Gather some friends and start a team! Or if you would like to join our team and meet up, please email me at alynn(at)nerdyfeminist.com to connect. If you are unable to attend, please still consider making a gift to this important event.
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