As I have embarked on this project, I have been thinking a lot about my own life experiences and that of my family and friends. This got me thinking (dangerous I know) about power and the abuse of power. What happens when you experience an abuse of power? How does that affect your story?
What happens when someone you trust sexually harasses or rapes you, what happens when a doctor abuses the relationship with their patient, what happens when a fellow woman fails to support you, what happens when the system put in place to protect you fails to do so?
I can only speak to my experience. For me, I have always had my writing, the support of close friends and family and at times my therapist (yes, I am admitting this and fully believe everyone should have one).
God love my parents. They were and are always there for me. When I was in sixth grade I had the first and only teacher who despised me. This was a new experience for me. I was a good student. I didn’t get in trouble, I followed the rules and worked really hard in school. I could not understand why my teacher was cold towards me. She would even go as far as to make an example out of me in front of the class. My teacher used to say, “You are not better than everyone else because you get to leave for a couple hours and go to a special program”. It didn’t matter than never once did I act that way or even think that was the case.
Then parent-teacher conferences happened and it all made sense.
My parents received an awakening that day. My first ever awful report. Miss Wise was her name. Miss Wise told my parents that I was a disruption to her classroom. I came across too confident, like I knew everything. Little girls should not behave that way. They should be calm and quiet. They should not act like they know everything.
I digress, but I would like to add that this occurred in 1994. So when you are thinking about how far our society has come, and whether or not the hurdles little girls, and women face today are actually real….well, they are. I may be turning 30, but I experienced them as a child and still do.
Stepping down from soap box……let’s continue the story.
This is when my parent’s backed me up. They asked my teacher, who happened to also be a woman and at one point was a little girl, “How is it the fault of our daughter that she intimidates you? Why is it her fault that she is in an accelerated reading program?”
I remember by parents came home and asked me if I wanted to switch classes. They explained what happened and told me, “It is never OK for someone to treat you that way.”
My parents taught me how to stand up and advocate for myself. Probably the single most significant life lesson they could have taught me. This got me thinking, what happens when no one teaches you that? What happens when no one goes to bat for you? How do you learn those skills and where do you go? What happens when you lose your ability to stand up for yourself and have to relearn how to do so?
I do not have definite answers to these questions, but I do know this is why organizations like the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing and Michigan Food & Farming Systems exist. Although, their missions may be slightly different, both exist to advocate for those who do not have a voice. Both exist to empower members of the community. To create self sufficient individuals. These common missions are why I chose to raise $30,000 on their behalf. They are the organizations that will go to bat for you and work daily to level the playing field.
They cannot do it alone, they need our help to make it happen. For me this is personal. I understand what it feels like to lose your power, to have it taken away by someone. The biggest difference for me right now is, I have healed. I am now in a place where I can fight back and be the voice for others. I can share their stories and I can try my damnedest to inspire others to invest in empowerment.
If you have a story you are willing to share please send an email to, email@example.com.