Season of Gratitude by Patti Giggans: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
I try to be grateful for the blessings in my life everyday but this time of year in the thanks and giving season it is our collective opportunity. And this year for the first time in many years, Thanksgiving Day and the first night of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, fall on the same day. What an opportunity to appreciate and be grateful for what lets the light in!
This year I am grateful that sexual violence and abuse is coming out of the shadows. The light is beginning to shine and as Leonard Cohen sings in Hallelujah: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
Over the past five years there has been acknowledgment of the breadth and depth of the trauma of sexual abuse in so many of our communities and institutions—the military, religious, schools and college campuses, prisons and of course within the family. I am grateful that what is so difficult to be spoken or shared because of shame and fear of blame is finally coming to light…slowly but consistently. This most secret of traumas is in the process of discovery. More and more survivors are coming forward and breaking silence, telling their stories and seeking help. More and more people receiving the stories are willing to listen and to become allies. The trauma caused by early childhood sexual abuse and its intergenerational impacts is becoming well documented. For this I am grateful. I am grateful for the strength and resiliency survivors live everyday in surviving and thriving and for the courage they embody in reaching out to make their lives better and indeed making the world better for the next generation.
In this season of Thanksgivukkah, I am grateful for the Joyful Heart Foundation for being an amazing support for survivors of sexual and domestic violence and for championing the agencies that provide the emergency and healing services and work for prevention. I am grateful for 1in6 for trailblazing the issue of male sexual abuse and supporting male survivors through the dynamic 1in6 website that has been utilized by thousands of male survivors who did not have a safe place to allow the light in to illuminate the cracks.
Both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are home holidays. As we gather with family and friends around the feasting table, let’s pledge to keep the light on within our families and in the nation!
– By Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans
Patti Giggans is the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence. Peace Over Violence is dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. She is also the Vice-President of the Board of Directors for 1in6.