I stand here before you today as an adult survivor of childhood sex abuse. From the time I was ten until I was midway through my seventeenth year I was repeatedly abused. But I am not here to recount the horrors of that abuse. I am here because I have survived that abuse. As a little boy I suffered but as an adult I have reconnected with my inner child and I am protecting and loving him now. He is beautiful. I am beautiful. You are beautiful and nobody deserves to be hurt or abused. Ever. My childhood was taken from me but I tell you today that I own my personhood now. My innocence was stolen but in my recovery as a survivor I have recovered my soul. I am here as a survivor and I stand proud as a survivor.
I speak because silence steals our power. I speak because silence shrouds us in shame. I speak because silence protects no one but those who would do us harm. It is in giving words to my past that I can live in the present and look forward to the future.
Today, in the here and now, I have come to be with you because I recognize that we are all in this together—men, women, adults, children, survivors of every race and class, allies of every creed and color—we are all in this together. We need each other. Many hands have lifted me up over the years and now it is my turn to offer my hand to others. Many words have touched my heart and now I offer my voice to others. All who have suffered abuse in its many unfortunate forms are brothers and sisters or others in recovery and survival. Those of us who can offer hands or voices or ears need to reach out to those who can’t yet do so.
We meet here in the shadows of Wisconsin’s Capitol, a place where legislators must be urged to continue to pass laws that protect those who have been abused and also to do their best to bring perpetrators to justice. On the other side of the Capitol is a statue named Forward, after our state motto. Forward we must go. I stand here looking forward to the day when there are no more victims. That day will come when we all march forward together to fight for a better future for all. That is a future without sexual violence. Let us join hands as we wrap ourselves around this Capitol and then push forward to work hard for the day when we no longer have to meet at events like this. Forward we must go, hand in hand, into that better future.