Walking the Walk-Silentlambs in Washington D. C.
We are happy announce that the March in Washington D. C. was a tremendous success. It was a moment that will be remembered for years to come in that it marks a positive direction in reaching out and standing up with other abuse survivors to speak out on abuse.
We drove there by car and it is about a thirteen hour drive so it makes for a long trip. We are happy to see that supporters for silentlambs marched with us from four different states. There were close to one thousand that participated in the ýRace to Stop the Silence.ý The event was well planned and everything went smoothly with no hang-ups or problems. The Hotel Harrington was a very nice place to stay with easy access to the race as well as the key tourist areas of downtown Washington .
We arrived late on Wednesday evening and checked into our hotel. The weather was very nice with a warming trend toward the weekend. So it looked like the weather was going to cooperate as well. Since the first of the year locals said it had rained every weekend or was very cold so they hoped this would be a welcome change.
Thursday started with planning for the press conference at the National Press Club. We arrived to meet Emily Smauelson a therapist and author of the book ýSoaring Above The Ashes.ý The book features pictures and interviews with abuse survivors that were thriving beyond childhood sexual abuse. We met Pamel a Pine the coordinator of the race along with abuse survivors that were there to speak to press. As the afternoon progressed different ones dropped by to look at the pictures, you can see photos of the press conference here,
Two key people that dropped by were Scott Berkowitz and Monica Taylor from RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) They operate one of the largest hotline and education organizations in the USA. We were able to leave a silentlambs video and make contact for further discussion on institutional abuse awareness. We hope something important develops from this.
So the results from the press conference were successful and we were happy to be part of it as well as meet the many people that dropped by.
Friday was a rest day to get ready for the march so we did a little sight seeing. The Smithsonian Institute was about two blocks from the hotel so we were able to spend most of the day touring the exhibits.
Saturday stared early with the program starting at around 7:30 am at Freedom Square on Pennsylvania Avenue . The race started at 9 am sharp so everyone was arriving during this time frame. The stage program started around 8 am with a young woman from Canada that is an actress working with a local school. There was a reenactment of young people discussing abuse and telling about speaking out. It was very moving as they did an excellent job with the presentation. Then followed announcements about registrations and getting ready for the race. A large speaker system was set up to help with the speakers and after which music was played for all to hear. To see pictures of the event click here,
When 9 am arrived everyone lined up at the starting line it was a picture to see,
The Capitol is in the foreground and Pennsylvania Avenue was closed for the morning, we had it all to ourselves.
Silentlambs had the largest banner there and many people stopped by to inquire and ask who we were. The best part was when CNN camera crew came by to do a long slow take of the banner with silentlambs supporters standing by. We were happy to find out later that CNN aired a news report later that evening and we are in the process of getting a copy. We think we had the best ýopticsý with the large picture of ýtinyý doing his job once again. Who could resist a picture like this?
The weather was beautiful in the mid 70ýs with a light breeze. It was a perfect day for a march! The road was clearly marked with traffic guards at every intersection to guide everyone along. As we walked everyone was clapping or saying words of support and encouragement. It was a very positive and happy experience for all that participated. We marched right in front of the Capitol, it was hard to explain but it seemed to be a validation of the hard work and effort that has been spent trying to help others speak out on abuse. Here we were walking in front of the top governmental office in this country standing up for all the silent lambs.
At the halfway point there was water for anyone needing it and more cheers and encouragement from on lookers. Finally we could see the finish line ahead in the distance,
There was a big P A announcement about silentlambs completing the race and a big round of applause as we crossed the finish line. It was a happy moment and one that we wish many more could have shared.
Afterward there was fresh water and fruit for all that wanted or needed some. We sat around and talked while they got ready for the concluding program. Announcements were made about who finished the race first and prizes given. All children that participated were given a gift to remember it by. Everyone that participated got an official ýRace to Stop the Silenceý T-shirt. Next on the progra m c ame the moving stories of two abuse survivors that were doing well. Michele the first speaker has worked for several years with a women support center and spoke about how helping others contributed to her healing. The second speaker a man told about raising his three children and keeping balance in his life. Pamel a Pine concluded the program with thanks to several including silentlambs for helping and supporting the program. The progra m c oncluded with an excellent college choir singing a selection of songs.
We what can we say? Silentlambs was happy to participate and see so many come together and speak out to stop the silence on child sexual abuse. It was empowering to see others with such strong convictions as well as positive healing moving forward and helping others to find their voice and inward strength. It was a wonderful and happy occasion with many laughs and smiles from those that were there. If we were committed to marching on Watchtower in Brooklyn, New York for abuse survivors, then how much more powerful to March in Washington D. C., with hundreds of abuse survivors at the Capitol of our nations government. When we were in Brooklyn they slammed and locked the doors, turned off the intercom like cowards when we offered to produce eye witnesses to abuse. While the Governing Body of Jehovah'sWitnesses hid in fear to keep from facing abuse survivors; a public statement was made to show how bible directives are ignored when the abuse survivors are willing to face their accused on their front door step. What point would be served to march before cowards? For those reasons there is little purpose to marching in Brooklyn New York where few will have a hearing ear.
The Washington D. C. March speaks to a far larger audience and tells the entire world that cowardly men that ignore abuse survivors should be identified and recognized for all to see. The banner that was walked down Pennsylvania Avenue was viewed by thousands and will give those that wish a place to educate themselves about small men that hurt children.
This was the first international March for child abuse in Washington D. C. Silentlambs was proud to be part of this history making event. This is a civil rights movement for children that has begun. No religion or any person should have the right to suppress the rights of a child when a crime is committed against them. To walk with hundreds of people that see the same issue is very empowering. We hope to make this an annual event in which more and more ýsilentlambsý can participate and March together to walk the walk in speaking out on abuse. Next April we hope to see you there.