August 2017 - Articles
LARIANA FORSYTHE: THIS IS MY STORY
Taken from a speech given at USFSP's Kate Tiedemann College of Business on July 26, 2017
Good morning! Thank you for being here to welcome me into the Tampa Bay community. I have relocated here from Arizona, and while I admit it is warm here, you all really have nothing on 122 degrees!
I have spent my entire career working in nonprofits, first the Special Olympics, then the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and for the last 17 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs. So in other words, it’s been a really long time since I had applied for a job!
I’ll tell you, things were going really great with my CASA job interview. Skype calls, interviews across the country, seemingly endless questions of philosophy or strategic planning, written dissertations and reports-- everything was perfect until I saw the job application. It was the first time I wondered, “can I really do this?”
The first question on the application was of course my name. Got it, that was ok! The second question was my home address— and that’s what stumped me. You see, I have a protected [confidential] address. I thought, oh my gosh, what do I do?
Getting a protected address was not an easy process in the state of Arizona. I didn’t have an advocate to help me and had no idea where to even start. I literally spent days calling around Phoenix city government offices to no avail, and then literally walking the streets of downtown Phoenix, going from office to office, trying to figure out how to apply to the Address Confidentiality Program. And even more difficult, once I purchased a new home, figuring out how to redact my new home address.
So here was the question: do I potentially put myself and my family at risk by actually writing down my real residential address? Do I instead use my legal address of record that is listed as a PO Box – which of course no one actually accepts as a residential address? Or do I use an entirely different address?
Not one to normally shy away from making any sort of decision, it took me a full 6 hours to resolve how to fill out that application...
I found myself in a situation many years ago that changed my life. I woke up in the hospital labeled as a "domestic violence victim."
I had been divorced for many years, so at the time it had simply never occurred to me that what I was experiencing had a name, or that there might be help available. As I laid in my hospital bed after surgery, unable to move and with this label for all to see, something profound happened.
The police officer who arrested my ex-husband came and spent several hours with me. She brought me all these gifts and flowers. It turns out she wanted to comfort me by sharing her own story of overcoming domestic violence. I think it was cathartic for her too.
During my extended time in recovery the hospital chaplain kept coming to see me. Why me? I promise I’m good!
Well, she was currently in a relationship with an abusive husband and I could tell that this was the first time she had ever talked about it. I was a receptive audience, a safe person to share the unspeakable with.
In their own time, a couple of nurses and a doctor also shared with me their own history with domestic violence, some past and some current. So did a young technician, who said he would never have children of his own, for fear of becoming an abuser like his own father.
I made a commitment then that, somehow, I would honor these and so many more silent survivors by helping to remove the stigma of domestic violence. Now with CASA, my personal and professional experiences have collided in a way that I can truly make a difference.
Hopefully you are still wondering, "what mailing address did she use on her job application...?"
Do you have a personal story to share? Email us and it might be featured in a future newsletter!
#RaysUp: CASA & The Tampa Bay Rays
CASA’s partnership with the Tampa Bay Rays shines light on domestic violence, informs people how to get help, and literally tells them: “We believe you. Speak out, we will listen!” Together we are telling domestic violence survivors that they have no need to be ashamed.
The Rays are saying it through visible support of our services, events and Reading With Raymond program; in the media; and literally on every bathroom stall in their home stadium.