This was among the entries for a “forgiveness post card” contest. I thought it was incredibly powerful and could mean so much for so many. We are all silenced at times… intentional or not… what silences you? Do you now fly? Is there anything I can do?
As of today I am beginning my vacation. I will probably show up again later in the week, but I wanted to clear my head and get in the right frame of mind. I’m really fortunate to love my job… I mean I LOVE my job! And right now there are a plethera of exciting opportunities ahead for my programs. We’ve completed our strategic plan and are now about the business of implementing it. The excitement means that my head is spinning with ideas and details and the “To Do” list is causing my notepad to run dangerously low on space. I’m really excited about the break, but I will also be excited to get moving when I return. Rest assured, I am clear that I am in a unique position – I really do love my job, even the bad days.
In order to really clear my head I need to share (and then purge from my vacation mind) some information I came across yesterday while wrapping up at work. It has left me perplexed. Actually, it pissed me off. Now, I can hate the war and love the warriors, so please don’t take this as an affront to those who are doing all that we have asked them to in crazy times of unrest. That’s not my point. Here’s what got me. I received a fax that addressed sexual assault in the military. It said enough to actually make me go to the website right after seeing it. www.ablackrose.org Did you know that 1 in 3 women in the military will experience sexual assault or harrassment (as opposed to 1 in 6 in civilian life)? That is CRAZY! But what is more crazy are the stats (videos included on the home page, scroll down) and response of the military leaders and systems to this craziness! I was quickly reminded of a bumper sticker I have seen many times: “If you are not outraged, you aren’t paying attention”. Every time I think about it I just get pissed off all over again… I am aware that the military has published new protocols for victims that are designed to make the reporting, and subsequent healing process, more sensitive and intentional. And the direct service personnel that I have worked with are exceptional, but to say that the military’s response, as it relates to perpetrators, lacks luster appears to be a grossly overstated. When does that stop? Who’s accountable?
This was the first I had heard of the Black Rose initiative. I am very familiar with the Red Flag Campaign that was created by Virginia’s Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (http://www.vsdvalliance.org) and is now being replicated on college campuses across the country. Both of these initiatives are designed to increase awareness but use of the Red Flag Campaign is a prevention strategy. The domestic violence counterpart to Black Rose is the Silent Witness initiative. In both cases, the experiences of victims are memorialized by providing a visual reference to demonstrate prevalence. VSDVAA also has a display known as “The Art of Surviving.” This amazingly powerful display includes the artwork of sexual assault survivors. Using various and sundry media, survivors tell their own stories.
… and justice for all… where is it?