Today is the beginning of No More Week. The No More campaign is a strong voice against domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as support for victims. Several celebrities have offered their names and faces to represent No More, and I wish I could personally thank each of them. The campaign encourages us to step in and help. One way to make a real difference is to be someone’s someone.
I remember a seminar I attended years ago, at a teaching hospital in San Francisco, when I was training to become a licensed psychologist. We all sat around a long table, and our teacher asked a question: “What’s most important to say to someone who calls in a panic?” This teacher was an experienced psychiatrist, and he knew his way around a panicked phone call. We began tossing out ideas.
“You’re bigger than your panic.” (In that moment, if this were true, the patient wouldn’t need to call.)
“Panic is just a state of mind.” (No kidding. It’s a beast of a state of mind.)
“It’s okay.” (Unhelpful. The person does not feel anything close to okay.)
Finally, our teacher smiled quietly: “The most powerful thing you can do is answer the phone and say hello.”
That stopped us in our tracks.
We’re only human, and we’ve all felt overwhelmed at times. Circumstances gang up on us, events build to a deafening roar, feelings run rampant. Of the many harsh experiences we have to face, domestic violence and sexual assault are as tough as it gets. Sexual assault and domestic violence should happen to nobody, but can happen to anybody. The experience can take many forms, and reactions can include a confusing avalanche of emotions. When someone we love is a victim, we can suffer as well.
The healing process can begin with simply knowing that someone is there for you, that someone will answer the phone and say hello. Being there, being someone’s someone, is an honor. You don’t need to be brilliant. You certainly don’t need to minimize the person’s feelings, or tell her (or him – yes, boys and men are assaulted, too) that she (he) is not feeling what, in fact, she (he) feels in screaming technicolor. Saying hello offers the first step on the path to healing. From that point, the person might choose to talk it through, figure it out, rally support, hold it quietly. Whatever he/she chooses, the path to healing can begin in that moment.
The No More campaign urges us to say “No to silence” and “No to violence”. The campaign also urges people to “get help now”. No More is about facing a terrible problem in our society, and also about hope and healing.
You can help in many ways – volunteer, donate, write, speak. You can heal. You can answer the phone and say hello, be someone’s someone.
No More will stand with you, and so will I.
Please check out the website nomore.org
Novels By Amy Kaufman Burk
Sexual assault and hurtful sexual experiences are so prevalent that I decided to include these issues in both of my novels. I tried to treat the issues, emotional and physical, with the respect they deserve. Having worked as a therapist for 25 years before becoming a novelist, I also hold boundless respect for the human capacity to heal.
Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable
A 15-year-old girl, Caroline Black, leaves her college prep academy for the local public high school, which opens her world. Written in reaction to witnessing gay boys bullied in high school, as a voice against bullying, stereotyping and sexual assault.
Caroline Black, a rookie psychology intern, goes through one year of training, working with her first patient – a young man who is stormy, seductive, complex and troubled. Written in support of healthy sex and sexuality, healing from sexual assault, same-sex parents, and a voice against the stigma of psychotherapy.