Well, I didn’t think I was going to post a new blog until May since April has been so busy, but I’ve decided to post anyway. I would love to share my experience of OTT Weekend with you all.
Well, last week I started it by acknowledging a survivor of sexual abuse each day. Prior to doing these posts, I asked six women a few questions and posted their answers along with their picture each day. So, each day there was a different SURVIVOR featured on the OTT Facebook page. Let me tell you, it was comforting to actually talk with other survivors and share the month with them. I enjoyed every moment.
So, OTT Weekend started off with the usual candlelight vigil ceremony. Yall, it was so emotional! So let me tell you about the set up. Each survivor that was recognized throughout the week was framed on a table next to a candle. So imagine this: seven frames lined up (including my picture) and a candle next to each frame. It was so touching and beautiful. There was singing, great music, supporting families and my emotions. I read about every survivor and called them to stand by my side. During the lighting of the candles, I asked the survivors to stand next to me again. We stood together with lit candles. It was the best feeling in the world. I felt like for the first time, I really wasn’t alone. Now, I know I’m never alone, but it really felt amazing to have other survivors of sexual abuse stand next to me. It was so empowering! I nearly choked up while saying the final prayer as we held tightly onto the candles. I prayed for every survivor and for every family member that supports the survivors. I prayed for those we may not know who are going through abuse. I prayed for those who are entangled in sex trafficking. The night ended as we hugged one another and promised to stay in touch.
Saturday, my church and I marched down Palmetto to the corner of Church Street, and back down Cheves. We held signs with stats about sexual abuse, and people in the cars slowed down to read them. Some cars honked the horn and gave us a thumb up, and bystanders applauded our effort to bring on a change. I carried the sign that read “1 in 10 kids will be sexually abused by age 18.” As I carried the sign I made sure the kids walked in front of me (just to give off that effect). After returning back to the church, we had worship service outside. Chad Chambers was our feature guest and FMU’s Praise in Motion performed for us as well. We ended the day by actually discussing sexual abuse. Each person was given a stat to read and gave a 30 second thought about what he or she read. I think I can speak for everyone when I say, I felt like everyone learned something just from the discussion.
OTT Weekend for 2016 was amazing and left me feeling even more empowered (but tired). I enjoyed every moment. I appreciate the support of my family and church family. I want to send a thank you to all of the survivors who came and a thank you to all our guests who performed. OTT APPRECIATES ALL OF YOU!