April is in it's last few hours here on the east coast, and with it, Child Abuse Awareness month. April 23 I hosted my sixth annual Speak Out Rochester, which is a day for survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence to tell their stories through all means of creativity imagianable. While the turnout wasn't what I wish it were, we sure did get every means of creativity imagianable- poetry, prose, music, dance, and visual art. The event takes a lot out of me, but I've never regreted doing it. Every year I meet interesting people, hear interesting voices, learn, feel and grow. And most years I get to feel like I'm making a difference, and that's not a trifiling feeling.
This year I got absolutely NO news coverage for the event. When I do get news coverage, it doesn't increase attendance much, but I think the fact I didn't get any is interesting in itself. People always say "we've got to do something about child abuse", but apparently whatever that "something" is, it isn't "think deeply". Stories about a specific instance of child abuse still shock and outrage us, and comentary about those cases always includes things like "someone needs to inflict some sort of torture on those parents". Never mind the fact that we've known how to prevent the majority of non-sexual child abuse for over 30 years, we simply choose not to do it. I think most people find the idea of child abuse being preventable hard to swallow, especially those people who refuse to think deeply about the subject. And to believe that we can prevent it, but don't, is a very unsettling idea. But it's absolutely true. It was a re-victimization for me to learn about it in college. For me, it was almost as powerful a realization as the night my uncle begged me for sex in front of my parents, and my parents did nothing to stop him. I was learning, again and again in different ways, that no one in our society cares enough to stop children from being hurt.
I've grown up a bit since then. I have surrounded myself with people who do care to do what can be done to prevent child abuse. And I've thrown myself at that work. I've seen a few good bils get passed, and I've seen programs that work be preserved through budget-years of record adversity. It's not entirely a lack of compassion or empathy, although there is some of that. It's mostly a lack of knowledge, of insight, and of belief that this can get better.
Two personal notes- somewhere on the petition site, I have a petition to make the damn Michigan senator who proposed forcing foster children to wear clothing from thrift stores to cut his own salary and make up the difference by purchasing suits at thrift stores. Obviously, I don't expect this to happen, but the petition also mentions that if foster kids are proving expensive for Michigan, Michigan had best invest money in primary prevention, which will keep kids out of foster care. If you want to sign it, publicize it or distribute it, please do! Also, my book is up for sale at a wonderful not-for-profit, and if anyone is interested in purchasing a copy, here it is
Healing through creativity is an organization dedicated to helping survivors succeed in their creative endevors. A portion of all sales proceeds I generate from their site goes back to them. I'm hoping that soon the organization I volunteer for will put my book up for sale on their site, and then they'll get a cut of sales. And I will write at least 30 blogs about children's issues as soon as I can. And after I finish with that, I'll write some more about children's issues, as well as whatever else strikes my fancy.