Moving on from pain and blame at
Brightside Event Venue


Co-founder of Empower HER Bridget Flaherty is curating MOVE: A Powerful Evening
of Storytelling

By Brittany Erwin

Picture the best thing that has ever happened to you. Did you tell someone all about it with a smile plastered on your face, joy in your heart? Now, picture the opposite—an event or experience that caused you to feel ashamed, humiliated, or abused. Were you able to work up the courage to share that with someone? If yes, I hope your story was treated with dignity and respect. I hope whomever you trusted to share it with believed you, validated you, and maybe even responded—tentatively at first, and then resoundingly—me too. Unfortunately, for many—particularly if their experience was one of sexual harassment or assault—this has not always been the case. Instead, the story was often met with a shrug, with anger, pressure to remain silent, or all of the above and worse. Everyone deserves to speak his or her truth without fear. “MOVE: A Powerful Evening of Storytelling Inspired by #MeToo,” hosted by Empower HER, Dayton Story Slam, and Dayton Most Metro on Thursday, Mar. 29 will provide a space in which to listen, to believe, to support, and make sure no one ever stops sharing again.

In the unlikely event you have not heard about the #MeToo movement, I will summarize for you briefly. Powerful movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was outed by the New York Times and the New Yorker as an alleged serial sexual harasser and abuser. More and more (and still more) women—and some men—poured forth in support to share their own stories of sexual harassment and abuse via the hashtag #MeToo, which was created by Tarana Burke and popularized by actress Alyssa Milano. The deluge of #MeToo’s was and is staggering in its volume, but there has been healing in the telling and the realization that you are not alone.

Just ask Bridget Flaherty, one of the co-founders of Empower HER, who told her own #MeToo story in Chicago. She remembers, “about two-thirds of the way through the story, with tears in my eyes, my mind went blank. The support that I received from the crowd was amazing and gave me the courage to retell the story…After being a part of that event I knew that we had to bring the same open conversation to Dayton.” It was time to rip the band-aid off so the wounds could heal.

So, from 6:30-9:30 p.m., for the small fee of $5.00—all of which goes to the Artemis Center—attendees and storytellers alike will converge and do just that. Storytelling provides a powerful way to connect and to create change. “Sharing stories serves a couple of purposes in the community,” emphasizes Bryan Suddith, co-producer of Story Slam Dayton, continuing, “When more people can understand the overwhelming occurrences of sexual violence and harassment, you move closer to ending it in relationships and in the workplace.” The catharsis and empathy achieved here can serve as a catalyst and call to action.

Given the subject matter, audiences should be aware this event will include adult subject matter, some of it upsetting. That said, the discomfort is worth it and Suddith described what attendees can expect to lessen the anxiety some may feel. “Bridget is screening the stories and creating an evening of stories, spoken word pieces and hopefully a few humorous ones as well. The stories are difficult to hear. These are real stories from real people who have suffered from harassment and sexual violence. This is an adult show, but it promises to be one of healing, hope, and encouragement” he says. While the audience plays a critical role, the voices of the tellers are front
and center here.

For those who have expressed skepticism regarding the #MeToo movement, or for those who have cautioned it will unleash a “witch hunt” (looking at you, Woody Allen), Suddith has some thoughts. He says, “They need to hear the stories. The stories aren’t intended to out someone. It is a healing event.” The goal is to find collaborators, to listen, and to learn within a space that feels safe and is encouraging. It is time those who have lived alone with their stories give voice to their experiences.

The collective volume of these storytellers’ words will ensure they will never be ignored again. “It has been a long time coming. Events like this one where stories are shared, and victims are given a voice, pushes institutions/organizations/individuals to address conditions and systems that allowed these behaviors to occur,” Suddith emphasizes. Every person speaking at this event not only deserves to share their experience, but to share it with a warm and receptive audience. Make yourself part of the crowd.

“MOVE: A Powerful Evening of Storytelling Inspired by #MeToo” will be held Thursday, Mar. 29, at the Brightside Event Venue, 905 E. Third St. Doors open at 6:30; Stories begin at 7 p.m. $5 minimum donation per person. All proceeds go to the Artemis Center. For more information, visit Facebook.com/empowerHERtoday/

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Brittany Erwin
Reach DCP freelance writer Brittany Erwin at BrittanyErwin@DaytonCityPaper.om

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