Be Outspoken, Stop Stigma

Had I seen my own friends and family hosting Outspoken campaigns years ago, I would have been so much more likely to have spoken up about my own experience and worked through it sooner.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Speak Your Silence, formerly Commit65, is on the brink of something big -- something worth talking about.

We're taking an issue that is typically awkward, depressing and taboo for people to talk about, and we're turning it into a cause that is hopeful and fun for people to rally around: Child sexual abuse.

There are plenty of feel-good causes out there. Child sexual abuse is simply not one of them -- that is, not until now.

We began to work with a San Diego-based company called Collaboration Reverberation to build Outspoken, the world's first crowd-funding platform exclusively devoted to the issue of child sexual abuse. Unlike other crowd-funding platforms, though, Outspoken has a two-fold purpose, serving not only as a fundraising platform, with 100 percent of funds raised going directly to provide free counseling to individuals who have been affected by sexual abuse, but also as a tool to conquer the stigma one conversation at a time. The platform allows individuals or groups to raise funds that help provide counseling services for those that have been affected by child sexual abuse; initiating the power of conversation.

We have made it possible for people from all backgrounds to get behind this cause by doing things they enjoy. Whether it is running a marathon, hosting a bake sale, or growing a beard, people can now use these activities to spark conversations within their own social circles and directly help people they love, while also helping chip away at the stigma of child sexual abuse.

Before individuals who have been affected by sexual abuse will be given a solid chance to heal and before future abuse will be effectively prevented, the stigma that looms over the entire issue like a dark cloud must first be conquered. What is needed is the ability for people to support the cause, to speak out about it, and to be activists, but in a way that is unique to them that they will enjoy.

We recognized early on that we needed to be innovative and cutting-edge, and to meet people where they are. Most people today use social media, and a huge number of Americans walk around with smartphones. We needed to make it possible for people to "spark conversation," whether that meant something as personal as a one-on-one conversation or as simple and non-intrusive as a Facebook "like." People are influenced a great deal by what they see their friends and loved ones doing. And if we have more and more people across the United States rallying around this cause by doing something as simple as growing a beard or running across Indiana in honor of a friend via an Outspoken campaign, with each "like," each comment, and each unique campaign, we really are going to conquer the stigma of child sexual abuse.

Had I seen my own friends and family hosting Outspoken campaigns years ago, I would have been so much more likely to have spoken up about my own experience and worked through it sooner.

If I was still walking around with a heavy secret today, I most likely would not be inclined to host an Outspoken campaign; that would be rather scary. However, you can bet that it'd be meaningful and therapeutic for me to simply support a friend's campaign, knowing that I was not only supporting that friend, but also beginning to turn my experience around and use it to help others. That is so subtle, yet so life-changing.

Outspoken is an incredibly powerful social platform and it is positioned perfectly to allow people from both sides of this issue to come together, do some really awesome things, create some great stories, and chip away at a long-standing social issue. And while people are at it, they'll be funding free counseling for people walking in the same shoes that I was walking in just four years ago.

I couldn't be more excited about what we at Speak Your Silence are doing with the Outspoken platform and I can't wait to see the role we're going to play in transforming so many lives. It's awesome.

Support HuffPost

Popular in the Community