I was on a panel last year with four amazing women — women who were entrepreneurs, leaders, change makers for good in their communities. I was in awe of each one as they spoke about their commitment to help others and their incredible accomplishments.
The last question of the panel came from a young woman in the audience: What motivates you and gives you strength to do what you do? Since I sat at the end of the table, I was the last one to answer.
The first one told us that she had been raped as a younger woman.
The second one had been sexually molested, admitting it for the first time on the panel. Her mom, who was in the audience and already knew about her daughter’s trauma, sobbed with pride as she listened to her daughter say that she refused to be a victim.
The third one also had been sexually molested by a family member.
The fourth one, too, had been raped.
Each one spoke about how they had been forced to find light in a dark, very dark, world. That often it was tempting to live in darkness — and some had for lengths of time. But those glimpses of light kept them going. They cried. They laughed. They shared their stories with a desire to help others heal.
I was in awe.
When it came to my turn to speak, I couldn’t at first. I held back tears. Unlike each of the incredible women before me, I had not been abused. In fact, I had grown up surrounded by love and support. It was my good fortune, my gratitude for so many gifts that inspired me. How crazy that I had a moment of unworthiness sitting next to these women who had been abused and overcome such obstacles to achieve the things they did. Shouldn’t it be a basic right that every child is loved, given security, opportunity? How could it be that I was the only one?
One of the moms of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky trial pointed out that everyone had lost in this trial. The victims, the families, the communities, Jerry Sandusky himself. His psychosis, now so obvious, brings up questions about morality, personal and social responsibility.