Dear Stephanie, Joene, Lori & Sari,
I have been thinking about writing this letter for quite some time, but just could not decide exactly what I wanted to say. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of gratitude I have for you each individually and for SLCAD. I am doing my best to be a support to SLCAD and to the Deaf community and interpreting community in general. I have learned much, and been given some wonderful opportunities to learn more and to teach others. But I want to make sure that you don’t think that for one minute I believe that the success I have had so far is all my doing. You guys gave me a chance to prove myself and to try to excel at something that is near and dear to my heart. I have been approached by many interpreters and agencies to train on the topic of interpreting for survivors, and every time it comes up, I always make sure everyone knows that the real credit is yours. I am just part of the spokes in the wheel trying to teach about DV/SA.
I am not sure if I have talked to all of you about my personal experience with domestic violence and sexual assault. I know I spoke to Stephanie about it some because I wanted to disclose that background before I accepted any other assignments just to be sure she was comfortable with me either interpreting or teaching knowing I had that as part of life. My home-life growing up certainly had its fair share of domestic violence. My parents are wonderful people, but they were raised with violence and that cycle, as we know, can easily continue. They did a great job of stopping much of it, and my home was not near as violent as the one in which they grew up. I not only hold no ill feelings toward them, but I honor and respect how much better they did than the way they were taught. My first marriage included many police calls for domestic violence that continued well after I escaped that environment. By far, the most traumatic single event in my life was when I was raped. I remember standing in the emergency room, talking to police and thinking that I was afraid other people would find out so I did not want to proceed with criminal charges. That ER experience was an example of how a person’s demeanor can impact the way a victim feels. I was assigned a male nurse who was a real jerk, but the two male officers were kind and supportive. To this day, there is one part of the story that happened during the rape that I have never told anyone and do not know if I will because it is so humilitating. Healing from that has been difficult and I wonder if it would have been easier had I proceeded with the criminal case.
Anyway, the reason I am telling you this is because I want you to understand the impact you each have had on my life personally. The research, study, training and interpreting on this topic has been cathartic for me. There have been lots of tears as I researched my topic, but through those tears I have found some measure of comfort. I feel like this is my way of taking back the control I have allowed him to have over me since it happened in 1996. I may not be facing him specifically, but if I can help train interpreters to effectively interpret for victims and survivors, I am helping someone else like me have the opportunity to have a voice and to be heard.
Thank you for taking a chance on me and giving me so many wonderful opportunities. I am far more grateful that I can say. My hope is that because I am affiliated with SLCAD, I will always make you proud and only bring honor to each of you individually, the entire agency and the mission of advocating for survivors.
Thank you so very much!