“Be the change that you want to see in the
Reclaiming my life after abuse has been both the most difficult and rewarding experience of my life. Last night I took a huge step toward becoming the positive change I want to see in the world. I was officially voted onto the board for CT-ALIVE, and even graduating with a degree from Yale does not compare in the sense of accomplishment. I have come such a long way on this journey!
From the time I first left my abusive relationship, I have wanted to get involved and give back to other women. Participating in Susan Omilian’s “My Avenging Angels Workshops” has only served to intensify this desire. The women in her follow up group are all amazing, strong, and beautiful people (both inside and out). They have so much to offer, and I wanted to be like them. So many of them had gone on to obtain degrees in social work and counseling in order to help other victims. Several work in healing and advocating for victims of violence. There is an amazing energy in the room whenever they are together. It’s palpable.
It was at one of the follow sessions that I got the idea to use my passion for running to help raise money and awareness for victims of violence. I told Susan how I could use the races I was running to raise money for her scholarship fund and sent an email to CT-ALIVE to ask for their blessing (without realizing that I already knew many of the members of the board). Susan replied back on both accounts with great enthusiasm and even extended an invitation to join the board. I was honored. Then she asked me for my résumé, and my heart sank a little. I had never volunteered on a board, or even for any organization focused on domestic abuse. My entire resume had to do with medical work. I sent it to her and attached the following cover letter:
Dear Members of the Board:
My name is Jenny W; and as you can see from my résumé, I am currently employed as a physician assistant in general surgery.
I have never functioned as part of a board, and have limited experience working with victims of violence. However, I do have experience at being a victim of violence and speaking out against it. I have always been a compassionate person, but surviving abuse and living with the daily struggles of PTSD has given me the ability to empathize with other victims. It is important to me to let them know they are not alone and there is no reason to be ashamed.
I have recently started a blog titled “The Running Thriver” to raise awareness about domestic violence and provide resources and hope to other victims. I am also planning to use my passion for running to raise money and awareness for victims of domestic abuse.
What I lack in experience I can more than make up for in sheer drive, determination, passion, and enthusiasm. As someone with the strength and resources to speak out and advocate for others, I feel it is my duty to do so to the best of my ability. Violence and abuse destroy lives. I want to be a force in this world against them.
Jenny W. PA-C, MMs
As I typed the letter, I had a slight sense of dread that I would show up at the board meeting and not be voted in. I was unsure of how they would react to my lack of experience. I didn’t know what to expect. I should have know better.
Stepping into the meeting was like walking into a bubble of positive energy. In addition to the many delicious snacks, the room was filled with enthusiasm and ideas. They were eager to hear what I had to say, which I found very humbling. It was like being in a room full of giants. They have all accomplished such great things, and here I was just starting out. (Check out my Blog Roll for further info on their individual projects) However, everyone was extremely gracious and made me feel completely welcome as part of their group. I felt like I was part of a terrific think tank with a single mission to reach victims of domestic violence and improve their lives. It was completing energizing, a feeling that I typically only associate with working out.
As horrible a situation as going through the abuse was, it would be difficult for me to say that no good has come from it. After all, it’s given me a tremendous opportunity to meet some incredibly amazing women and find volunteer work that I am truly passionate about. I also have a new found appreciation for exactly how much inner strength I possess. People who are never challenged in life miss out on ever realizing their full potential. I, on-the-other-hand, have had the privilege of finding out exactly what I am made of; and that is something I don’t regret at all. It has made me a stronger, more self-aware person, and (among other things) a better runner.
I would encourage everyone to visit the new and improved website for CT-ALIVE and read more about the work they do. They are making a terrific impact on women’s lives and provide their services free of charge. Please consider donating to help support their ongoing work. If you know anyone who you think may benefit from reading this blog, feel free to share. Also if you have any questions or comments you can either leave them here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.