One in every one thousand children are victims of their parent’s neglect and abuse. I am a part of that statistic. 13.1 million children live in a food-insecure home right here in America. One in four girls sexually assaulted. I am a part of all these statistics, but I am more than that. We are more.
I grew up in a very abusive house. I had a mother who was a prostitute and chose her men, drugs, and beer over her children. I liken my early life to that of Dave Pelzer. I’ve had my face, coccyx, hands, clavicle, teeth, feet, and ribs broken. I’ve been forced to brush my teeth with a toothbrush that was used to scrub a toilet. I’ve been screamed at and convinced that I was not worthy of the air I was breathing. I have gone days and days without eating because my mother chose her alcohol and drugs over me. I spent years of my childhood as a sexual plaything for a man in my family. I’ve had a gun held to my head and a knife at my throat. I know what it is like to not know what a mother’s love feels like. I know what it is like to not be protected by the very people who brought me into this world. I know what it is to be forgotten. But I am just one. There are so many others who live through worse each day, and too many who are silenced and have had their voices stripped from them. I am not ashamed of my statistics and I am no longer fearful. So I speak.
I started my life as a mere statistic. One of the many forgotten destined to continue the cycle of abuse and hate. Too often the perpetuation and silence are chosen by those who have been significantly hurt. Each day I actively seek ways to guarantee my cycle has been broken and my voice is loud. I have dedicated my life to giving my children the assurance that they are loved. In all the ways I mess up as a mother, the one thing they can never doubt is my unconditional love for them. At every opportunity, I write or speak of the atrocities afforded me in my life. Silence is not the answer. Voices that ring out regarding the deplorable things going on in our world are what we need. Especially in light of the relentless and escalating vile acts of hatred and bigotry we have seen in our country. Remembering and acknowledging the “one-ins” is how we bring change. The normal statistical curve is the continuation of the cycle of hate and abuse. I choose to be part of the change to see the curve move in a healthier direction.
My life has been interwoven with mere statistics that are so easily glossed over. But, I am more than that. I am one of the 1 in 1000 children who have been beaten and neglected by their parents, but there are others who have drawn that number as well. I am one of the 13.1 million children who worry about food and face profound hunger. I am one of the 1 in 4 girls who have been sexually assaulted, but there are more number ones. We need to remember to not just look at the numbers. There are people, faces, lives attached to those numbers. They are human beings who are deserving of recognition. We cannot allow them to be just a number. They are more. We are more.
We cannot be a Nation that forgets the “one-ins”. We cannot live stagnant lives and forget to strive to better the statistical failures of this world. We cannot allow our voices to be stripped from us any longer. We cannot stand silent and turn our eyes away from the things we deem uncomfortable, difficult, or anything we think doesn’t directly affect us. Because it all affects us. We are one nation and one world. When we are silent about the sexual assault of a young man or woman, we are condoning their lives being destroyed and the attacker’s actions. When we turn our eyes away from the bruises on someone’s face or the child hoarding snacks because they don’t know when they will get food again, we are saying their lives are not as important as ours. When we witness monstrous acts of hate and sit in front of our tv or computer screens and say nothing, we are throwing our humanity in the garbage. The very essence of our being, regardless of creed or religion, should be love and kindness. Always. That means speaking up for those whose voices have been stripped from them. It means comforting the victim of all types of hatred and violence, REGARDLESS of their color, sexual orientation or gender. It means standing beside and behind our brothers and sisters who are violently being marginalized.
Right now we are a country standing on a precipice. On one side, we devour each other with hate and silence and leave nothing left but the empty bones of immense potential and possibility. Or, one by one we stop accepting the statistics that have been placed before us and demand change. We speak up for the heinous acts happening to the people around us and realize we are all connected. We live our lives and leave behind seeds of hope, love, and kindness. We refuse to accept the dark and twisted path we have been so hell-bent on going down in the past and demand love – we demand kindness – we demand light. We are so much more than the empty husks we pretend to be. It is time we start acting like it.