Take Back the Night, 2017

Sometimes I have listened to someone speak and wished I was able to take their words from the air, place them down and sit with them a little longer.  Here is an opportunity to do just that with the words I spoke at Take Back the Night, 2017:

"Take Back The Night has evolved over the years.  From the uprising early years of the mid 70’s (when I was born) to the growing pains of Controversy and Debate over Who should participate and How.

Tonight, we stand in solidarity, with the impulse of this event that has Survived the past 4 decades:  The Right To BE. 
Pure and simple, Take Back The Night is a movement started by women who saw their Right to Exist being undermined, threatened, and removed as a result of Interpersonal Violence.  
The list of examples of interpersonal violence is long, gruesome and exhausting.
I could stand here and list the facts and statistics behind Take Back The Night, but since this is an open invitation event, my gut tells me..most of you Here Already Know.
Many of you have already experienced a form of Interpersonal Violence, and I Honour You.      Too many of you may still be experiencing it - One is too many – May We Honour You.        And every single one of you here Knows someone who has experienced it. They may not have told you, but I guarantee at Least One Person you know has been the victim of interpersonal violence.    May they be Honoured.

We are a Multitude, often silent and struggling to survive.
I know Because I was born Glorious, and innocent,
And I grew up abused, and harmed to my very core.
For me, it wasn't just someone, it was three different someone's from my earliest memories till the age of 14.
I was suppose to be able to look up to these role models,
Respect them
And be protected by them.
Instead of learning How to Trust
How to be Loved and Cared for and in return give these things back;
I learned how to Hurt.
I grew up Thinking I was a Bad Person.
Thinking that I Deserved to have bad things happen to me.
Thinking that I was Doing bad things.
That my body was not mine to control.
That my body was not mine.
And protect?
I didn't know anything about protection.

So we can Be Mad.
I have Been Mad.
I have been Stark Raving Mad - Blinded By Rage -  Swept up in its Electrical Current and Left Fried,…Fringed,…and Frail.
When Sexual, Relational or Domestic violence has been part of your reality – it cuts to the core of your Personal Worth, and when your core has been compromised, something is gonna give.
Being Mad is Par for the Course.  It’s “normal” or “expected” in these kinds of circumstances.  And it’s Needed. 
But I will tell you this: It is Not our Strength.
It is our Fire, Igniting us; Calling us to Action, Change.

Our Strength, my friends, doesn’t come from a Reaction, a Response or even a Retaliation.
Our Strength, comes from Compassion, Connection and Collaboration.
Compassion because first and foremost to tap into our Strength we must hold Ourselves in a Compassionate Light to see the Immeasurable Value of Our Individual Worth…and sometimes, that is Hard. 
That’s where the power of Connection comes in.  Connecting with others who have our best interest in mind and who want to see us Thrive supports the Truth of our Core Value - Connecting confirms our Humanity.
When we are able to hold compassion and make connections, Collaborations naturally begin to arise.  And when we do things Together: we are Bigger, we are Louder, we are Stronger.

That is why I am here tonight. 
I have chosen compassion, first for myself, next for humanity: we are flawed and often frail, but we are also fierce and more capable than we have ever allowed ourselves to be, especially when we come together.
So we have Chosen to be here tonight.
We have chosen to come together.
And when we choose to come together, We Unite.
WE are not the ones who need the Light shown on the Reality of Interpersonal Violence.   WE Are The Light. 
I challenge each and every one of you to Hold that thought.  Hold that Truth. We Are The Light.
When we are holding the light during the candlelight vigil, we are holding the light for everyone who is affected – WE are Holding the Light.
Take Back The Night is part of a movement that has propelled Conversations, Legislations and Rehabilitations.
Conversations that examine the Inherent Value of each and every one of us,
Legislations that support the welfare and Validity of each and every one of us,
And Rehabilitations that work to heal and nourish each and every one of us.
…and there is…So much more work to be done.  

The shadows that veil interpersonal violence have existed for generations upon generations.
When We show up..We shine our Light onto these shadows. 
When we challenge the cultural and social norms that encourage violence, we shine our Light onto these shadows. 
When we demand Laws and Policies to Assist in altering norms linked to violence, we shine our Light onto these shadows. 
When we have conversations on consent, we shine our Light. 
When we talk about sexual respect, we shine our Light. 
When we raise the issue of “rape culture”, we shine our Light. 
Every time we show up against any of the shadows of interpersonal violence, We are Shining.
We Are the Movement: Every step, Every ripple, Builds and adds momentum to the waves of change that the next generations will experience.  Waves of Change that This generation is beginning to experience, together.
We Are the Changemakers - We Are the Lightbearers - We Are the Future-of-Tomorrow-in-the-Fire-of-Today.
Tonight we aren’t Just marching to claim the Right…to claim the Night…we are marching to *Claim*Our*Light*.