Faces of Violence & Survival Exhibit
During one of my most uncertain future of life – cancer – health; I’ve been thinking of all the bench marks I had set for my 40th Birthday. I told myself, “Well! You can’t control what’s happening now and as soon as those cancer tests are done and treatments finally addressed I can get back to accomplishing these goals.”
Then LIFE has a way of keeping you busy when you don’t know how to find the strength – mentally, physically and spiritually – to take on all that comes at you! One thing I’ve learned through my path is that, life is fleeting and every opportunity needs to be grabbed by the handful as it may not come along again. This from the woman that went snorkeling in Hawaii even when I didn’t know how to swim! I asked myself, “WHEN will you be back here again to do that?!” So I rented the gear and asked the group of college gals to keep an eye on me and call the life guard if they see me in trouble.
Like snorkeling without knowing how to swim, decisions aren’t always the best ones but WHAT AMAZING STORIES they make to tell my children that came a decade later! I’m sure it will be repeated to my Grand-babies when they’re old enough to know how adventurous their Gma truly is. I try to see my life ending like “Rose” from “The Titanic” movie – with all the pictures of her jumping in to a pool from a horse and living an un-ordinary life. My life has been far from ordinary and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Last month one of my Facebook Friends, Kandee Lewis Executive Director of “Positive Results Corporation” put out a call for contributions for a special Domestic Violence project. She needed survivors willing to share “Their Truth” for an exhibit that was to be empowering and shatter the negative images that many have of the victims and those fortunate enough to survive such horrific events. I contacted her and sent my recounting of a couple of events. Sadly, I have a few and various forms of Domestic Violence experiences. None are worse than the other, as any form of Domestic Violence is devastating to those that experience and witness it.
The exhibit was beautiful! A full wall was dedicated to the women that have participated and shared their experience. Some lost their life at the hands of their abuser and their families shared their picture and story for others to gain understanding and strength. There were 7 survivors from the exhibit that spoke on their experience – myself included.
I wish to describe to you in this passage what it felt to be there but it won’t come close to the full experience. Kandee promised a welcoming environment where we are loved and not shamed by what we shared. As a victim/survivor it’s difficult not to feel negativity from these events in our lives. When I speak “My Truth” prior to this event I’ve always had the person that would say “You don’t look like a victim.” The large scars and missing teeth go unnoticed and the scars inside our souls are much more difficult to “show.” I can honestly say that I don’t see myself ever getting “over it” – whatever “over it” is. There will be certain things that will unwillingly transport me to a bad memory and loose all strength of keeping myself together. Will that ever stop? I truly doubt it, but each day I make sure I build upon the strength and the resolve to keep moving FORWARD and ONWARD…. for me… for my children… for the many that are searching for a light to their own path.
*Deep Breath* I decided to take my Son with me to experience this path in my life. These particular experiences of my life he had not heard or experienced. I decided that my Daughter was still too young to be able to understand all that I was going to share. During our drive to the location I explained the exhibit to him and why I am participating. He asked if I was going to speak of what we experienced as a family and I shared the beginnings of my life and the rape by the Man they knew as their Step-Dad. He was quiet and didn’t say much on the subject.
We got lost for almost an hour but so glad we finally found the location. The event was a success and had people from congress and university students in attendance. When I saw people standing in front of my picture and reading my stories I wonder what they were thinking and feeling? One young lady stood in front of it for a good 15 minutes and when she turned and recognized me she was teary eyed and gave me a hug and words of encouragement. I was there to encourage her and she was the one giving me strength. How amazing that felt!
My Son took pictures of the event and the exhibit itself. He smiled shyly and listened quietly to the speakers/survivors. I was the last speaker at the end of the event. I tried hard to be strong and not let the emotions come at me like an avalanche. I started very well then…. I saw my Son and it was even more difficult. I told my story, I cried through much of it but did my best to tell it coherently through it all.
When I was done Kandee was quickly by my side and hugged me. It was a welcomed feeling and there was no shame or negativity from her or anyone else in attendance. My Son smiled at me and that was all I needed.
I felt empowered, welcomed and love. Each person there was different and yet we shared the same bond. Many were Activists and had their own organizations dedicated to helping other Human Beings. We don’t “look battered” and even though our souls have experienced the harshest of realities in life, we all are beautiful souls doing amazing things in this world.
THANK YOU Kandee for having me participate in this Exhibit/Project and I hope more cities will invite us to share this welcoming environment to their communities.
Here’s to my new found family…
Here’s to another life long goal reached…
Here’s to working to save another life from these horrible experiences that none should ever face alone.
Please let me know if you would like more information on the exhibit or future events for this project. The following are the links to the courageous survivors featured in this exhibit:
|Art By: Toni Tales www.ToniTales.com|
The Faces of Violence and Survival
Samia Bano – Daughter, D.V. Advocate, Happiness Coach, Survivor
Tenisha Webb – Daughter, Entrepreneur, Community Mother, Survivor
Yolanda Stewart – Mother, Community Mother, Victim Deceased 1991
Wendy Gladney Dean – Wife, Mother, Educator, Entrepreneur, Survivor
Janet I. Richardson – Mother, Advocate, Teacher – Victim, Deceased 1991
Michael Richardson – Son, Pastor, Survivor
Christian Richardson – Entrepreneur – Survivor
Tommy Richardson – Son, Victim, Abuser, Mental Illness, Murderer, Inmate, Survivor
Danielle Richardson – Domestic Violence Advocate, Motivational Speaker,
Bestselling Author of “God Heard My Cries: The Deliverance, Link: http://amzn.com/
MizLiz BBWGeneration, Mother, Accountant, Advocate, Model, Blogger, Survivor www.BBWGeneration.com
Gabby Vilhauer, Registered Marriage & Family Therapist, Program Manager, Ice Hockey
Melissa Lumbard, Daughter, Real Estate Agent, Domestic Violence Advocate, Survivor
Ortralla Mosley – Daughter, Sister, 15 year old High School Student, Deceased March
2003, Mother formed Trella’s Foundation
Cassie Betts, Daughter, Mother, Model, Designer, Entrepreneur, Owner of District2.Co
Kelli Dillion, Daughter, Mother, Convicted of Killing Abuser, D.V. Advocate, Student,
Certified Trainer & Motivational Speaker, Survivor
About Us: www.prc123.org www.facebook.com/PRC123