What we had in common was that each of us had been raped.
And that we were strong enough in our healing to stand up and tell our stories to hundreds of strangers, tearing ourselves open for them, being more emotionally intimate with them than some people are with their families, in the hopes - in the belief - that doing so will make a difference, will put a human face on it, will break the code of silence.
I'm used to finding out about fellow survivors online. Or, if in person, alone or in pairs. So I've never had anything - like - this. Just sitting there and having the bone-deep realization that every person in this room, every shy or laughing or... whatever, every person in this room has been violated.
And has hauled themselves back up and put themselves back together and is determined to lead change.
My Bordertown friends are like me. My Tamson House friends are like me. My Boston friends are like me.
But no one is like me in the particular sense that these women were like me.
I am stunned and awed and moved. And I have a lot of processing to do.
And? Today I told my story out loud for the first time in probably ten years.
Seriously. I communicate primarily online. For years, I've been able to say "I'm a rape survivor. Read my post about it." Instead of "I'm a rape survivor. This is what happened."
I was... not prepared. I've done public speaking at cons. I've written extensively about the rape and ensuing fallout. But it's not the same. Especially because we only had five minutes - they give you five minutes and allow twenty-five for questions. I had to cram this...enormity into five minutes. Three, if you include intro and wrapup.
My voice shook as I said things like "He tied my wrists behind my back with a gym sock." And the image-flash in my mind - seeing my chafed-bloody wrists in harsh hospital light hours later...
I hadn't realized. I had not realized that I had not said these things out loud.
We all did well. Now we process, and meet again in a month.
And... I have to practice telling my story. I want to do my best. So. If you are willing to hear me, to help me hone this, let me know.