Vera House “2018 Gala”

Vera House “2018 Gala”


(gentle music) – What makes me, me? Mmm, wow, that’s… (laughs) So. – What makes me, me? Wow! – My husband, my son. – I guess empathy, humanity. – But the family that I’ve created. – I’m a mom, I’m a daughter. – I’m led by adventure and excitement. – Can I say somethin’
simple like the sum total of all of my experiences? – To be me I feel like it takes
a lot of strength right now. (gentle music) – I met my ex-husband in college and my senior year of
college was the first time that he ever physically assaulted me. – He just like put his hand on my shoulder and pushed me back on the couch. – I remember thinking
he must have me confused with somebody else. Like why would he be
touching me, you know, um… – And I remember just staring at the clock on the TV stand as a
couple of minutes went by. – My body felt completely numb. It went into complete shock. – The violence escalated and
the sexual abuse escalated. – Being punched, slapped,
kicked, beat up daily. – Think my journey has been ongoing, probably since I was five or six. – It was something that he did to me. I wasn’t even sure what it was at first. – The only protector that I
knew at the time, my father, passed away and the abuse
started after that had happened. – I can image myself at 12
and 13 and I get so choked up. – Inside, you know, I feel like am I gonna be
able to live through this? Am I gonna die early? I wondered. – I didn’t want to lose
the person I loved, I just wanted the hurting
and the abuse to stop. – The more that I tried to keep it in, the more damage I started to
cause myself and to others. – I would have anxiety attacks on the way to school, classes, cafeteria. – I was somebody who wasn’t
attending class frequently, was often finding myself
turning to alcohol as a way of coping. – I had become a pretty good alcoholic. – I was drinking heavily, to the point of blacking out at times. – So I started to numb myself with drugs. – When I really looked at it and accepted that this was my reality, I was able to begin to cry
for myself consciously, and not just walking around
crying not knowing why. But I was able to cry for the child in me. That was just, that was the beginning of
some really good work for me. – Speaking out can be
a very lonely feeling. It can put you in a very lonely place. – I don’t know which was worse, being told you’re a liar when
you’re trying to report it or being told that no
one’s gonna believe you. – I didn’t know who first to tell. I didn’t think anybody
was going to believe me. – You know, I want people to
know that if they’re judging me and trying to make me feel worse, it just increases my trauma. It makes me feel worse. – The only thing that a
victim or a survivor wants is to be validated. We want to be understood,
we want to be heard, we don’t want to hurt anymore. – So I would say don’t judge them. Let them talk. Listen to someone who has a story to tell. – Now, right now, I would
absolutely urge everybody, one, to speak out that it’s wrong, and two, to honor
everybody’s life experience that they hear. – When I finally spoke
my truth I felt freer, I felt a burden was
taken from my shoulders. – It was the most freeing
moment I have ever felt. I just felt for the first
time that I was real. – I feel like I’ve had to really dig deep, find a strength in myself that I had never even realized I had. And find hope. – Even though I am a
survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence,
I have a wonderful life. – I can act with confidence. I always know that I’m
doing the right thing. And I never felt like that before. – You know something, part of my healing has been
there was this little girl here and there is this strong me. Those two have merged. – The love that I have with my wife is the most authentic love that I probably have ever experienced with an intimate partner in
an intimate relationship. – Now I have a clear idea now that this was the life
experience I was meant to share so that we can make change, so that we can change peoples’ attitudes, opinions, values. – People are starting to see
the magnitude of this problem. I think the time to speak is now. – I think it’s important for
people to continue talking and sharing and connecting. – And that survivor’s journey
I now know is forever. It continues every day. (gentle music)

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