Amy Kaufman Burk is a novelist and blogger, and an IMPACT grad. She graciously offered to let us repost her latest blog, which is about No More Week, raising awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence. It is also about one of the core principles of IMPACT self-defense: trauma happens in isolation, and healing happens in community.
Today is the beginning of No More Week. The No More campaign is a strong voice against domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as support for victims. Several celebrities have offered their names and faces to represent No More, and I wish I could personally thank each of them. The campaign encourages us to find a way to step in and help. One way to make a real difference is to be someone’s someone.
I remember a seminar I attended years ago, at a teaching hospital in San Francisco, when I was training to become a licensed psychologist. We all sat around a long table, and our teacher asked a question: “What’s most important to say to someone who calls in a panic?” This teacher was an experienced psychiatrist, and he knew his way around a panicked phone call. We began tossing out ideas.
“You’re bigger than your panic.” (In that moment, if this were true, the patient wouldn’t need to call.)
“Panic is just a state of mind.” (No kidding. It’s a beast of a state of mind.)
“It’s okay.” (Unhelpful. The person does not feel anything close to okay.)
Finally, our teacher smiled quietly: “The most powerful thing you can do is answer the phone and say hello.”
That stopped us in our tracks.
We’re only human, and we’ve all felt overwhelmed at times. Circumstances gang up on us, events build to a deafening roar, feelings run rampant. Of the many harsh experiences we have to face, domestic violence and sexual assault are as tough as it gets. Sexual assault and domestic violence should happen to nobody, but can happen to anybody. The experience can take many forms, and reactions can include a confusing avalanche of emotions. When someone we love is a victim, we can suffer as well.
The healing process can begin with simply knowing that someone is there for you, that someone will pick up the phone and say hello. Being there, being someone’s someone, is an honor. You don’t need to be brilliant. You certainly don’t need to minimize the person’s feelings, or tell her (or him – yes, boys and men are assaulted, too) that she (he) is not feeling what, in fact, she (he) feels in screaming technicolor. Saying hello offers the first step on the path to healing. From that point, the person might choose to talk it through, figure it out, rally support, hold it quietly. Whatever he/she chooses, the path to healing can begin in that moment.
The No More campaign urges us to say “No to silence” and “No to violence”. The campaign also urges people to “get help now”. No More is about facing a terrible problem in our society, and also about hope and healing.
You can help in many ways. You can heal, raise your voice, learn self-defense, step in. You can pick up the phone and say hello, be someone’s someone.
I'll be standing right behind you.
Amy Kaufman Burk is a novelist and blogger. Her novels, Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable and Tightwire both deal with issues of sexual assault and hurtful sexual experiences. Visit Amy Kaufman Burk's author page on Amazon.