End of week one. Not really week one though, I’ve been preparing for the Road to Change for nearly two years, but with the event finally hitting the press last Sunday, it feels like the journey has officially just begun.
Summer 2011, lying in the bath in my flat in North London, dazed. I had just received a package from Fedex. A gold plaque. Sent to me by Dr Pamela Pine, the Founder and CEO of Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse Inc. in Washington DC, The plaque read ‘Matthew Raphael Smith European Ambassador for Stop the Silence’. It had blown my mind so entirely, I was lying in the bath trying to figure out what it meant.
Two months prior to this, Dr Pine (my wee pal Pam) had asked me to be her organisations ‘British Ambassador’, while we were in San Francisco with a theatre production of my play ‘To kill a Kelpie. A story of psychological damage in survivors of child sexual abuse, which Stop the Silence tour, and now the film version (directed by my brother, the award winning filmmaker Edward M Smith) to raise awareness for the healing and prevention of child sexual abuse. I tour with them, speaking to the audience with Dr Pine after the show. I find that talking about my experience of being sexually abused by my Godfather allows others to witness that its ok to talk about it. Thats all really, simple, but within this simple, yet for so many difficult, action of sharing feelings and memories and questions, we find healing. We find strength. We find answers. Not all of them, but some. Enough to get on with living.
I imagined as the British Ambassador for an organisation aimed at preventing and exposing child sexual abuse, I’d go around the UK and just talk. Stop the Silence, bang the drum, blow my own trumpet, anything, just make as much of anything but silence, to help people find healing and help others keep their eyes open for the sake of our children…the plan began to form, there’s others out there trying to do the same, I’d find them, and we’d sing out together, simple…though of course, I knew it would take a while. Britain’s a big place. Lot of noise needed to reach everyone…But I wanted to do it, and I felt like I should…BUT…that day, when my plaque arrived, so too my big challenge arrived. It didn’t read ‘Matthew Raphael Smith British Ambassador Stop the Silence’ No… It said ‘European Ambassador’.
Europe? Europe. Not Britain. Not 60million people, 500million…
So I lay there, in the bath…I imagined trying to Stop the Silence in all those countries. How would I even begin to do that? I guessed I’d have to start by going there. Try and get their attention. How do you arrive anywhere in such a way that folk notice you? Hmm…it would need to be something extraordinary, but not fake or show-bizzy. A simple but epic way of getting around Europe…then suddenly, the idea smiled at me and I knew, I was going to be walking around 28 countries :)
I have been putting the Road to Change together ever since, that fateful afternoon in the tub, when I realised I want to try and Stop the Silence across a continent. Aim for the moon eh…I’ve got a team of angels by my side. Pam (Dr Pine) Sheri, Amanda, Jojo, Tom, Mojo, Eddie, my whole family and friends and all of you who’ve donated so far and so many more folk who’ve heard my plan and just decided they want to help. It’s a long road, but not one I feel I’m walking alone. (even though, yeah, I will be…)
So…thanks for reading this, please follow me as I try (its all I can do) And please, I mean this, please help me Stop the Silence. Help me help you, help everyone, together we can Stop Child Sexual Abuse.
Thanks again Pam, for the typo that changed my future and will hopefully change the future for many many more.
Lot of starfish on this beach, better get going eh :)
Matthew Raphael Smith (McVarish) EUROPEAN Ambassador…