Thursday, May 22, 2008

A sad, sad world

Get ready, I'm going to talk about school-related stuff, so if you aren't interested, feel free to go make a sandwich or something :)

Today I attended a conference on sexual battery called "Pathways to Healing: From Trauma to Recovery". It was overwhelming. I don't even know if I can really put into words all that I felt, but I feel like I just have to write about it.

It was an all day conference with two keynote speakers and an option of workshops. The first keynote speaker was a woman named Sharon D'Eusanio. She works for the Attorney General as assistant director of the division of victim services. She mainly travels around the country, giving speeches and serving as an advocate for victims of violent crimes, especially victims who have a disability. Her story was awe inspiring. She is blind as a result of a horrendous attack from a complete stranger who ran her off the road and then kidnapped her,assaulted her, shot her, stabbed her, and left her for dead. When she decided to go public with her story, she thought that she would do that for a few years and then get on with her life. That was over 30 years ago! Now she is a stalwart victims advocate and voice and described her own path to recovery.

I had heard that she was a powerful speaker, so I signed up for her workshop that was after her morning speech. The fire and passion that emanated from this woman was amazing! She seemed to pick up where she left off and spoke for another two hours, never really repeating on the same topic. You could tell that she had so much knowledge about dealing with victims of sexual crimes along with so much compassion. There has been a lot of media coverage recently about a woman who was raped in broad daylight in a well-to-do side of town, so as a result camera crews from TV20(our local news station) came to the conference to highlight what people in our community are trying to do about sexual crimes. (If you watch the news tonight, you can see the back of my head clearly :) Still, I know that there is a lot of sexual crime in our city and I don't think that it is a coincidence that there is so much coverage of this particular incident and its occurrence in an up-scale neighborhood and that is sad to me.

Anyway, the second workshop I went to was about Batterers' tactics and the speaker went through the many strategies and tactics batterers use to control and diminish their victims. I feel like I learned so much, but at the same time I feel bombarded with the sadness that there is so much of this in the world. There were many "survivor/thrivers" as they refer to themselves at this conference and even though it was inspiring to see them there, it made me realize how uncomfortable I am around them. I feel like I don't know what to do with myself, or what to say. At lunch, an older women was sitting quietly at our table. One of the girls from the program asked her if she was a mental health counselor, and she responded that she was a survivor/thriver. This hush fell over our table and another girl from my program said, "umm, I don't really know how to say... congratulations?..." and then she turned beet red. She meant it in the kindest way, but I feel like that illustrated how we all felt. How do you deal with the reality? Hopefully I will be able to figure it out as I get more counseling experience.

No comments: