On September 6, 2014, I gave my seventh Toastmasters speech in my quest for the prestigious Competent Communicator designation. Since joining the organization and giving my first speech—also known as the “Icebreaker Speech”—I’m right on the fast- paced schedule I set for myself. Getting this designation was one of two goals I set as I was planning my return to the U.S. from Germany in November of 2013.
It’s in sight and I refuse to be denied!
What was the title of my speech? “Loving a Rape Victim”.
As I began, I knew I’d have to draw upon all of my strength and skill to rein in my emotions. It was to be a very personal speech. If I could get through it to the end without tears, I’d be quite pleased.
For seven minutes, I discussed my relationships with women who’ve been rape victims and how I’ve always felt like a “magnet” to them. So much so, I’ve even had strangers open up to me about their lives. It was one of these strangers who shed light on why so many abused women are drawn to me:
“…you might make them feel safe or comfortable about talking and confiding in you. I would never have told you that if the conversation had not been brought up by you.”
As I said, she was a stranger. I just shared with her a story I was working on about this subject and she opened up to me.
Her words were quite stunning because it made me understand this was a heavy responsibility to have such trust placed in my hands. And, dare I say, a tremendous honor.
I started my speech strong. But as I progressed, there were moments filled with emotions and I could hear it in my words. The voice in the back of my head would speak to me as I spoke to the audience of fellow members.
“Come on…you can do it…no tears…be strong…”
But as I approached the last thirty seconds, I could feel the trickle of water streaming from the corners of my eyes. I finished my speech and I was drained. The club president, a thick, broad-chested man, gave me a big bear hug and whispered in my ear his approval.
The critiques I received from my fellow members were wonderful. They could hear the feelings in my voice, too. I guess that’s what you want from a great speech. Of course, it might have been better without the tears. That’s just something I’ll have to work on.
Tears can be interpreted differently, depending upon with whom you speak. Some feel they are signs of humanity. Others see them as signs of weakness. I didn’t want the sight of me shedding tears to detract from my message, but I’m a man with feelings. What can I say?
So many of these women I’ve met have lived a lifetime of pain and suffering. Too many men had shown them they were nothing but playthings to be used and thrown away when they were finished. They were treated as if they were dirty…tainted…worthless.
Sadly, many of these women believed it. The tears in my eyes were for them, and one special woman in particular.
Here’s a poem I wrote just a few days before my Toastmasters speech. I wrote it in the very early morning before retiring to bed. It’s raw. It’s also angry. But I think it was necessary for me to write it before my moment “on stage”.
If you have a minute or two, please listen and let me know what you think. Thank you.
Poem: God Damn the Rapist
“Causes of Rape Graph” is copyright material and was used with the permission of WeKnowMemes LLC. All rights reserved.