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← The profound power of an authentic apology

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Showing Revision 7 created 12/06/2019 by marialadias.

  1. For the past few years,
    we've been calling men out.

  2. It had to be done.
  3. (Applause)

  4. But lately, I've been thinking
    we need to do something even harder.

  5. We need, as my good friend
    Tony Porter says,
  6. to find a way to call men in.
  7. My father began to sexually abuse me
    when I was five years old.

  8. He would come into my room
    in the middle of the night.
  9. He appeared to be in a trance.
  10. The abuse continued until I was 10.
  11. When I tried to resist him,
  12. when I was finally able to say no,
  13. he began to beat me.
  14. He called me stupid.
  15. He said I was a liar.
  16. The sexual abuse ended when I was 10,

  17. but actually, it never ended.
  18. It changed who I was.
  19. I was filled with anxiety and guilt
    and shame all the time,
  20. and I didn't know why.
  21. I hated my body, I hated myself,
  22. I got sick a lot,
  23. I couldn't think,
  24. I couldn't remember things.
  25. I was drawn to dangerous men and women
  26. who I allowed -- actually, I invited --
    to treat me badly,
  27. because that is what my father
    taught me love was.
  28. I waited my whole life
    for my father to apologize to me.

  29. He didn't.
  30. He wouldn't.
  31. And then, with the recent
    scandals of famous men,
  32. as one after another was exposed,
  33. I realized something:
  34. I have never heard a man
  35. who has committed rape
    or physical violence
  36. ever publicly apologize to his victim.
  37. I began to wonder,
  38. what would an authentic,
    deep apology be like?
  39. So, something strange began to happen.

  40. I began to write,
  41. and my father's voice
    began to come through me.
  42. He began to tell me what he had done
  43. and why.
  44. He began to apologize.
  45. My father is dead almost 31 years,
  46. and yet, in this apology,
  47. the one I had to write for him,
  48. I discovered the power of an apology
  49. and how it actually might be
    the way to move forward
  50. in the crisis we now face
  51. with men and all the women they abuse.
  52. Apology is a sacred commitment.

  53. It requires complete honesty.
  54. It demands deep
    self-interrogation and time.
  55. It cannot be rushed.
  56. I discovered an apology has four steps,
  57. and, if you would,
    I'd like to take you through them.
  58. The first is you have to say
    what, in detail, you did.

  59. Your accounting cannot be vague.
  60. "I'm sorry if I hurt you"
  61. or "I'm sorry if I sexually abused you"
  62. doesn't cut it.
  63. You have to say what actually happened.
  64. "I came into the room
    in the middle of the night,
  65. and I pulled your underpants down."
  66. "I belittled you because
    I was jealous of you
  67. and I wanted you to feel less."
  68. The liberation is in the details.
  69. An apology is a remembering.
  70. It connects the past with the present.
  71. It says that what occurred
    actually did occur.
  72. The second step
    is you have to ask yourself why.

  73. Survivors are haunted by the why.
  74. Why? Why would my father want
    to sexually abuse his eldest daughter?
  75. Why would he take my head
    and smash it against a wall?
  76. In my father's case,
  77. he was a child born long after
    the other children.
  78. He was an accident
    that became "the miracle."
  79. He was adored and treated
    as the golden boy.
  80. But adoration, it turns out, is not love.
  81. Adoration is a projection
  82. of someone's need for you to be perfect
  83. onto you.
  84. My father had to live up
    to this impossible ideal,
  85. and so he was never allowed to be himself.
  86. He was never allowed to express tenderness
  87. or vulnerability, curiosity, doubt.
  88. He was never allowed to cry.
  89. And so he was forced to push
    all those feelings underground,
  90. and they eventually metastasized.
  91. Those suppressed feelings
    later became Shadowman,
  92. and he was out of control,
  93. and he eventually unleashed
    his torrent on me.
  94. The third step is you have
    to open your heart

  95. and feel what your victim felt
    as you were abusing her.
  96. You have to let your heart break.
  97. You have to feel the horror and betrayal
  98. and the long-term impacts
    of your abuse on your victim.
  99. You have to sit with the suffering
    you have caused.
  100. And, of course, the fourth step

  101. is taking responsibility
    for what you have done
  102. and making amends.
  103. So, why would anyone want to go through
    such a grueling and humbling process?

  104. Why would you want to rip yourself open?
  105. Because it is the only thing
    that will set yourself free.
  106. It is the only thing
    that will set your victim free.
  107. You didn't just destroy your victim.
  108. You destroyed yourself.
  109. There is no one who enacts
    violence on another person
  110. who doesn't suffer
    from the effects themselves.
  111. It creates an incredibly dark
    and contaminating spirit,
  112. and it spreads
    throughout your entire life.
  113. The apology I wrote -- I learned something

  114. about a different lens
    we have to look through
  115. to understand the problem
    of men's violence
  116. that I and one billion
    other women have survived.
  117. We often turn to punishment first.
  118. It's our first instinct, but actually,
  119. although punishment
    sometimes is effective,
  120. on its own, it is not enough.
  121. My father punished me.
  122. I was shut down,
  123. and I was broken.
  124. I think punishment hardens us,
    but it doesn't teach us.
  125. Humiliation is not revelation.
  126. We actually need to create a process
    that may involve punishment,
  127. whereby we open a doorway
  128. where men can actually become
    something and someone else.
  129. For so many years, I hated my father.

  130. I wanted him dead. I wanted him in prison.
  131. But actually, that rage kept me
    connected to my father's story.
  132. What I really wanted
    wasn't just for my father to be stopped.
  133. I wanted him to change.
  134. I wanted him to apologize.
  135. That's what we want.
  136. We don't want men to be destroyed,
  137. we don't want them to only be punished.
  138. We want them to see us,
    the victims that they have harmed,
  139. and we want them to repent
  140. and change.
  141. And I actually believe this is possible.
  142. And I really believe it's our way forward.
  143. But we need men to join us.
  144. We need men now to be brave
    and be part of this transformation.
  145. I have spent most of my life
    calling men out,
  146. and I am here now,
  147. right now,
  148. to call you in.
  149. Thank you.

  150. (Applause)

  151. Thank you.
  152. (Applause)

  153. Thank you, thank you.

  154. (Applause)