So Karen celebrated International Women’s Day by passing her S.A.R.P. exam today. You probably heard the sigh of relief outside your window early this afternoon. Yep. That was me…er, her. She is now officially a pioneer, part of the first cohort of front line workers in Nanaimo’s new Sexual Assault Response Program. Not bad for an old [trans] woman, if I do say so, myself.

“I couldn’t do that work,” my friends tell me. Usually they couple it with, “You are amazing,” or “You are so brave.” I appreciate the compliment, but it feels uncomfortable, even undeserved. I have been doing this work with survivors of domestic violence at Haven, for several years already, and here’s the reality: when my friends think of sexual assault, they imagine a woman hurt, in tears, a woman utterly broken. They think only of overwhelming pain. They think only of the battered face, the bleeding wound. They can’t imagine having to look at it. That’s never been what I do. Every week, I sit with women who honor me with their stories. I sit with women who have been through horrors my mind refuses to imagine and bear witness to a strength, a resilience, and a courage so radiant, it takes my breath away. Who would not sit beside such women? Who would not sit beside such astonishing flames? I warm myself at the fire and give thanks for light, even in the darkest night of the soul.


~ by karenmcl on March 11, 2017.

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