WYR Project: Day 1

Today I ‘soft launched’ the WYR Project, and it was a roller coaster of emotion that ends on the highest note. I’m exhausted but so excited for tomorrow I can barely sleep!

I reached out to women who inspired me.

I wrote a letter to Lucy DeCoutere, the actress that was the first to come forward about Jian Ghomeshi and the one who inspired this project. I wrote her this morning and she called me tonight and we talked for an hour about our experiences and our ideas for helping others find a safe space to come forward. She gave me some important advice about taking care of myself through an experience which is likely to stir emotions I can’t even begin to anticipate right now.

I wrote to some politicians, including MPP Cheri DiNovo, another inspiration for this project who shared her rape story last month. Her office called me within about an hour and we have a meeting set up to talk about the project. I’ve never met with a politician before, but I’m sure excited for this one. Cheri DiNovo is a celebrated and award winning LGBT activist, among many other accomplishments. If someone can teach me about affecting change, it is her.

I reached out to women who can help me.

I wrote to another politician who has recently been tasked with a campaign to address violence against women. I reached out to the founders of other successful projects/initiatives related to sexual violence and supporting survivors. Tomorrow I’ll be reaching out to more people – anyone who can offer words of advice about how to make the When You’re Ready Project really take off.

I reached out to my family and friends.

This was the hard part. All morning I fired off letters to complete strangers telling them I’d been raped and about the WYR Project. But I also decided to share it with some people close to me in advance of tomorrow when I’ll attach my name to my stories and the WYR Project. I thought they’d like to hear it from me first. A few of them knew I’d been raped, but none of them knew it was three times and none of them knew the details. They learned about it today through posts here on this blog.

I don’t’ know what I expected, I was just overcome with generalized anxiety. I was worried for them, that they’d be sad for me in the middle of their work day (funny, isn’t it, the things we find to worry about). I pictured my parents reading about that first rape and playing back all the things that happened between us that summer and wondering if there was something they should or could have done differently (there wasn’t). I pictured my sister crying, wondering why I never told her. She did cry. But she also told me this: “There is such great power in doing this, Lauren. I’ve heard it said that shame loses its power when we are fully known and truly delighted in. I delight in you completely.” And that makes me happy mostly because I’m so proud of what a kind person she is and what a wonderful, compassionate and insightful response that was.

I’ve received only support and words of encouragement. Lots of people say “you’re so brave” and ask “how can I help.” The answers, they already have.

Someone reached out to me

I set up this project to create a safe space for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories. Today I received a story from one person through the blog. She thanked me for letting her share her story and said it felt great to get it out there.

When I launched this project I didn’t think all the way through the fact that people would be confiding in me some pretty terrible things – particularly now as I manually take the stories and post them. I wrote back to her a few pages. I shared some elements of my own stories that I’m still not ready to share here, and told her about a deep fear I’ve never shared with anyone before. I told her I’m here for her, and gave her my number. And then it was me who felt a weight of my chest and grateful to her for letting me share that piece of my story. I can’t even begin to fathom the compounding effects of this project.

I  haven’t posted this person’s story yet because giving members 100% control of their data is and always will be a core value of this project, and I’m working with her to confirm exactly what she’s comfortable posting. Stay tuned for more.

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