When my teammates found out that I didn’t listen to anything on the ride, they always asked “how can you do that?!” At first it stemmed from my fear of not being able to hear my teammates yell “car back” Or having my headphones somehow fall out of my ear and wrap up in my spokes and crash. However, for the past few weeks my answer has been a little different.
I ride without listening to anything because I’m listening to everything. I am noticing everything. I hear the rustling of the leaves on the trees, I hear the crunching of the gravel under my bike, I hear the whooshing of the grass, I hear the chirping of the birds, I even hear the buzzing of the insects flying around my ear. If I was in the car I wouldn’t be aware of any of this. And if I had my headphones in I probably wouldn’t be paying attention to it.
I’ve been thinking about how sometimes trafficking can be overlooked. The sounds and the signs can be easy to miss because of misconceptions or assumptions. A guest speaker we had at launch weekend discussed how, as a doctor, she missed the signs in one of her patients. She didn’t know what to look for; what she did see, she didn’t realize were signs of trafficking. She was hearing, but she wasn’t listening.
The past 9 months being a part of PTP and truly the past 7 weeks I’ve been re-learning how to listen. Cycling with the sounds around me has truly opened my ears up to all the nuances that the world has to offer. It has also helped me to listen to all the nuances that sex trafficking has. Not every survivor has the same story but that does not mean one is less important than another. It means that we must listen to their voices and learn how we may support each individual. Once we start listening we can start having conversations that center around survivors and their voices.