THE MUSICIANS: Chris Hurley, Derek Grange, The Band Wayne, Tiewa Esquerra, Sonsapapa, Cameron Webb, Audri Bramwell
When: April 6th, 7-9pm
Where: UVU Grande Ballroom, 800 West University Parkway, Orem, UT
Cost: $10, group discount available (proceeds go to help fight sexual exploitation nationally!)
The !Make Noise! charity concert will include a number of musicians and bands along with local survivors and fighters of sexual exploitation voicing their personal experiences. The concert will be held in conjunction with the Clothesline Project taking place in the same venue the day before. Started in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women, the Clothesline Project is a vehicle for individuals affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. These shirts are then hung on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem. Over the last two decades, this project has become a worldwide testament to the power of individuals to unite in standing up to sexual violence.
Sexually abused as a little girl. Behavior issues in elementary school. Anti-social childhood. Constantly fearful and frequently suicidal at age ten. A teenager full of anxiety. Panic attacks first year of college. Nervous breakdown age 19. Hope lost. Can’t handle life.
That is my story. But not all of it. Here is the second part.
Age 21. Smiles spontaneously. Makes new friends. Walks around college campus confidently. Going after dreams and goals. Likes to go on dates. Loves job. Loves learning. Loves hanging out with family. Loves life. Hopeful, happy, healed.
During the hard times, I made a promise to God that if He would help me I would spend the rest of my life spreading hope and opposing sexual exploitation and upholding human dignity. I did receive help and many people were placed in my path at perfect moments to boost me up and push me along.
Now I have three messages for the world.
The first is that Sexual Exploitation hurts. It hurts children who are sexually abused and I know from experience that it continues to hurt them for the duration of their lives until they can access healing. It hurts people who are addicted to pornography. It alters their brains just like a drug. There are many who are addicted who don’t want to be and are desperate for a way out. It hurts those who are trafficked, sold, bought and used. Their dignity and humanity are stripped from them. It hurts the people who love the people it affects. I witnessed immense suffering in my parents and siblings because of my experience and I’ve watched it ripple out to our neighbors and friends. Sexual Exploitation is an epidemic in our society. Disregard for dignity, respect and morality is corroding our society and some people are making a gigantic profit because of it.
The second is that nothing will change if we don’t talk about it. You cannot fix a problem you don’t understand. Because it is a problem that is bigger than a few individuals there has to be widespread understanding across society. I was very sick because of sexual exploitation. Healing did not come until I looked it squarely in the face, acknowledged it and how it affected me, and understood it. Because then I could see things I needed to change. It is the same with society as a whole. We are sick because sexual exploitation has infected us. Societal healing will not come until we look it squarely in the face, acknowledge it in its huge scope, and understand it. Then we will see how and what to change.
And finally there is hope. There is a source of hope that is greater and better than all the sorrow and pain in the world. There is hope for people who feel so hopeless that they feel like it would be less painful to just die. There is hope for people who are watching loved ones suffer and feel powerless to help them. There is hope for the children, women and men who have been so deeply hurt by sexual exploitation in any form. There is hope for their brains to make new pathways and their hearts to be mended. There is hope for dignity to replace degradation in our world. Never give up.