On April 22nd, 2018, I headed over to a park not far from Liberty University to participate in a photoshoot for Voices of Consent. I was still a new volunteer, so I didn’t know most of the members yet. When I arrived, Kelsey, the CEO, was there with her cute little dog in a stroller, along with an armful of VOC t-shirts. I looked around at all the smiling faces of mostly girls and wondered what led them to be here today. I knew some of them were longtime members of VOC, some were new members trying to become more proactive in VOC’s activities (like me), and some were volunteering because of invitations from friends. But beyond the surface interactions that had brought us here, I wondered what deeper reasons might have motivated them to come.
For some, it was horrifying abuse that they had suffered – I knew at least two members of the group who were fighting, through VOC, against an evil that had directly affected them. For others, maybe it was those close to them that had suffered, causing them to forever be sensitive to issues of abuse and interested in finding ways to help survivors. Maybe some of them were like me – young women (or men) who had never experienced abuse personally but whose heart hurt for anyone who had been damaged and demoralized by people who denied them their humanity.
As we walked through the park, taking picture after picture, people walked by us on the trail. I hoped that the messages on our shirts, such as “#MeToo” and “Change starts here” would make them curious about the cause that we were supporting. Perhaps someone who’d experienced abuse even saw us and was encouraged to know that there were people out there who cared and were actively doing something about it.
The weather was gorgeous, budding trees surrounded us, and I could hear the rushing of the river running through the park. Everything was so tranquil and relaxing – such contrast to the darkness we were fighting against. But it was here, in this ordinary park, that a group of passionate young adults were taking a stand against abuse by taking action, even if it was doing something as simple as taking pictures.
It wasn’t the first time I volunteered with Voices of Consent – and it certainly won’t be the last.
- Emily McCrea (VOC volunteer)