My grandfather was a storyteller. Every time my family would visit him and my grandmother in San Diego we would spend hours sitting around the kitchen listening to whatever story popped into his head.
I think I get my storytelling inclinations from him. My friends will give me a hard time because of the number of times I force them to sit and listen to me describe something they have heard many times before. They always laugh, smile, cry, whatever is called for because they know what it means to me to know that I am heard.
We are now halfway through this epic adventure and I have heard stories galore. From teammates, from our hosts, from strangers on the street that are inspired by our van or jerseys. I’m struck by each of these interactions. People have shared beautiful and sometimes horrible insights into their lives giving us the opportunity to understand them and learn from them.
As advocates, we have stories. I have stories such as that time I was chased by a dog on my bike or when I sat with a couple at a viewpoint discussing trafficking in my home state of Texas, and so many others. I also have the stories I have been entrusted to carry and share, from my family and friends and strangers who have been impacted by the horrible realities of sex trafficking. These stories matter, but the person who voices them shares that significance. I am not a survivor, I will never understand what it truly means to be a survivor.
These stories help me to try and understand and to listen for the voices of survivors. It is important to remember that these girls have voices and stories of their own. Voices that are powerful and true who just need people to pay attention. It is vital in this fight to center their voices. Because stories matter, and the voices who share them matter even more.