They are not victims.
They are survivors, but not just any survivors, superhero survivors.
Not everyone wants to hear what they have to say.
Some people don't want to go through the trauma. Some people don't like hearing about abuse. Life is hard enough without having to hear about sexual abuse.
Some people hear it and the stories sink so deep into their skin that they react in wild and visceral ways. They look away, but are still willing to help.
Some react by holding up the women in their own way -- signing a petition, writing a letter, sharing the issue with their friends, speaking to their Congressperson. I like to give hugs. I like to listen to the way their voices rise and fall.
Here's what I suggest, that we bear witness. That if the women are strong enough to stand before their families, their governments and the Japanese government and speak their truth, then I respectfully ask us all to bear witness. Listen.
The truth is not always easy, but it opens up the heart in most amazing ways.
And each of us can do our best to help in the way we know best, in the way that keeps us whole. It's different for everyone -- isn't that right, Annabel Park?
(Above, Lola Ashang and I at the 10 year anniversary of the founding of LILA Pilipina.)
A ten year old girl in Orlando wrote me. She wants to take the petition around her neighborhood and ask her friends and family to support House Resolution 121. Look at her, a ten year old superhero riding her bike from house to house with a clipboard in her hand.
This is a struggle for healing. This is a matter of dignity. This is about respecting ourselves and each other.
It is one for the history books. It is a testimony told and relived with every retelling, not to dwell on the past, but to open up the future.
(Above, Lola Josefa and Lola Dolor stand with comadres after a local rally in Manila during the year 2002.)
Superheroes speak their truth in front of large crowds. Before embassy gates. Into camera lenses. In classrooms. On the streets. In churches. At family gatherings. Superheroes whisper the truth in bedrooms to their loved ones, name their truth to their own hearts. Not victims. Not just heroes but Woman Warriors of Great Dignity. Superheroes. The lolas.