Sunday, December 6, 2015

Now Where ~ Meeting @Mariska!

She appeared 'in the moment' when I handed her a Women of Distinction magazine with a feature article I said I thought she would be interested in reading. I desperately added, 'and follow me on twitter too'. And then her attention diverted swiftly and she darted around me hollering 'Mike, Mike' over the top of the noise in an attempt to get the attention of a bodyguard standing close by.  I was taken aback somewhat.  What happened next was so unexpected.  One of the other members of our sponsor group of four was acquainted with Mariska and not in a good way, apparently.  I reflected on Mariska greeting the woman in an odd fashion, asking 'Are you feeling better today?' And on a first name basis. I'm thinking, huh?

Reflecting, I stood dumbfounded wondering what happened. Was there something I had done unknowingly to offend this powerful, high-profile activist.  I couldn't believe it. I was certain there was nothing.  Suddenly I felt hunted, an extremely old trigger, but the heightened level of excitement in the room magnified the fear. Survivor instincts are always right below the surface of our mask.  I convinced myself nothing I had done was causing Mariska to comb the room in order to point out to Mike where the stranger in my group had gone.

Abruptly, I reminded myself why I had come on this trip to meet Mariska Hargitay. I found the remainder of my group. Natasha and Theresa needed a bio break, so I broke off solo to mingle in what remained of the reception.  Food was great.  Non-alcoholic drinks were easily found.  I wandered once more around the huge ballroom.  Passing through the hallway to the sanctuary I reconnected with my party, minus one stranger.

We were directed up the center aisle toward the front stage. Front row center, I sat between two sweet New Zealanders, probably the only Tennessean in the room. We were 15 feet from the star of the conversation, Mariska.  Little Gold Book in hand, open and ready to write. I got some great notes about Mariska and her plans ahead. 'Shelved' is due to deliver in 2016. This documentary is about the journey to ending the backlog of rape kits laying unprocessed in county evidence lockers.

I sensed during her conversation she feels the pain and suffering of survivors as if it happened to her. Empathy beyond one's imagination. Mariska embraces "the gift I have been given" and faces the challenges of her work bravely and directly.  She is aware of the platform and opportunity available to her. With persistence to end the shame, stigma and isolation, Mariska guides The Joyful Heart Foundation's (@TheJHF) mission to shine light on the darkness of domestic violence, rape and child abuse.  She has been instrumental in raising awareness of these problems to a social level where individuals are beginning to choose to stand up and speak out for those that cannot for themself.

I needed to hear her words.  I needed to see her embracing her gift, often a burden due to the dark, and ugly nature of the topics of child sexual abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. 'Perseverance and fearlessness' characterize my fight for no statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse. Thank you, @Mariska!