For as long as I can remember, letters—both handwritten and typewritten—have been my avenue for practicing vulnerability and deepening connection. To me, the blank page represents curiosity, reflection, acceptance, intimacy, healing, and optimism—an emotional collective I have yet to so readily feel through verbal communication. There are parts of me that will only ever be known through pen and paper, and there are parts of all of us that I believe to be uniquely heard and held in reading letters from fellow humans.
Given this and the current climate surrounding sexual assault—as well as my personal investment in its education and prevention—I felt inspired to collaborate with a dear reader on an open letter to survivors of sexual assault.
A few months ago, Major Brandon Alford of the United States Air Force and I engaged in a meaningful conversation in the comments of my post on literal listening. Some of what I had shared reminded him of his experience as a sexual assault response coordinator and victim advocate—a journey that began nine years ago. In our conversation, he poignantly stated, “If we are to continue in this profession of honor, it is our duty to epitomize honorable treatment of humans, including combating the prevalence of sexual violence and providing avenues for healing survivors.” I was deeply touched by these words, and it is from them—and our shared love of calligraphy and letter writing—that the open letter by Major Alford came to be.
It is my hope that this letter—in its beautifully handwritten form—will provide survivors with a space for healing and empowerment, advocates with a feeling of encouragement, bystanders with a call to action, and critics and skeptics with a compassionate awareness of the issue.
To spread the message, consider printing the letter and sharing it with a certain someone, posting it somewhere public, or tucking it in an envelope and leaving it to be found by a passerby.
Let us be the change.