DISTURB THE UNIVERSE
I wanted to tell my mother what had happened to me when I was a girl, when I was sexually abused and bullied in our home. I spent years imagining and rehearsing how I would do it. Decades passed. I didn't tell her because I didn't want to ruin her life. I wanted her to have an illusion of family life that had shattered for me when I was still a girl. I held my silence and lived out my trauma, diminished my shine. Finally I started to tell her at a time that seemed ripe. I'd only said "When I was a girl," and she held up her hand and said she didn't want to know. So I never did tell her.
When #metoo began, I was happy. Yes, it happened to me. In all sorts of ways. I was assaulted. I was diminished. I was called "honey" in professional settings. I was undermined. But finally I would speak. And I would encourage other women to speak.
When Roy Moore of Alabama lied about his stalking and assault and the women who had the courage to come forward were doubted, I wanted to do something to stand up for all of us who do not come forward in a world that has not supported us but can. The idea of the Authentic Voices Project emerged one day several weeks before the election, and I began to solicit stories. We asked Alabama women to tell their stories of sexual abuse, and then we went through the stories and plucked elements from each submission. From there we invited members of Sister City Connection Spoken Word Collective to record the selected segments. We delivered these recordings to Rynea Soul who worked her magic adding beats and weaving audio art.
We are not asking to be believed. The truth of our experience rises from within us. We do not look outside for validation. We settle into the fluency of our native tongue, before we were silent. From our abuse, we make audio art. We sound it out. We vibrate the chords that rise through our throats and we bring authentic voices into the world.
I was assaulted as a girl and I was bullied for decades. I was discriminated against because of my gender. I trained myself to be tough as nails and this project is helping me to loosen up and feel my own story in the stories of others.
We are not asking for anyone to believe us.
We are telling our own truths.
If you have a story to tell, we want to hear from you. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can send your story as a text file or as an audio link.
If you have an ongoing sexual assault situation or want to seek counseling, please seek help. In Birmingham, https://crisiscenterbham.org/ Nationally: RAINN can route you to a regional assistance for sexual abuse. https://www.rainn.org/