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My Pledge for 2020 (and Beyond)

Updated: Jan 1, 2020

Sometimes, the past rears it’s ugly head and just sucks a bit of the life out of you.

I have not been shy about telling my story. Part of that was because I was invisible for so long, silent for so long, that it was so not healthy for me to stay invisible and silent anymore.

Right after landing in Reykjavik, where was I was privileged to be invited to attend the Women Leaders Global Forum, I received a message on Facebook from someone I don’t know, who was asking questions about my former abuser.

Not only questions, but for pictures of him now. And the fact that he is still being allowed to be a cantor in (I believe) the Jewish community.

In 2000, when he was arrested for running a brothel in Chicago, I was asked to report my sexual assault by him. It had been over 12 years since I had turned 18 and it was just the beginning of my journey into what had actually happened way back then when I was 12, yes, F-in 12 years old. And for the 6 years following that fateful summer.

While the statute of limitations for child sexual assault in the state of NJ was unlimited at that time, and I believe it still is, I made a choice not to pursue it. And while I did so for many reasons, one of the strongest reasons was that I could not find any other girls like me.

In other words, I decided that going alone in this battle was not going to be healthy for me.

I cannot tell you how many sleepless nights I have had in the past 20 years because of this decision. Usually, I am ok with it, but then there is something that raises the issue of “could I have done more?” Could I have saved someone from falling prey to this horrible person?

In Empowerment Self-Defense, we talk a lot about victim-blaming and how, no matter what you did, or do, it is the perpetrator who is solely responsible for their actions. I believe that.

And........ not acting to stop someone that I know is continuing to destroy lives......well, that feels really sucky.

I know that his behaviors are his responsibility. And I still wish I could find other survivors who would be willing to join together and get justice. AND 43 years later......I am tired. Tired of this being the theme song of my life.

And I march on, to make sure that every girl, no, every child can learn the skills and fundamentals of healthy interpersonal interactions so that fewer will need to have sexual assault be the theme song of their lives.

We, as communities, as humans, need to commit ourselves to scaling violence prevention. We need to bring Empowerment Self-Defense to ALL.

Having the skills to know that you will do the best you possibly can at the moment that you decide that you are unhappy with a situation is the most empowering feeling there is.

At the Women Leaders Global Forum, we were asked to make a pledge about how we will commit ourselves to making the world safer for women and girls between now and the end of 2020.

I pledge to do everything in my power to get another 100 ESD teacher trainees out into the field to spread ESD to another 20+ countries.

This is totally achievable!

Update: It's January 1st and we're halfway there:

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