February 13, 2018

Women share stories of survival in How to Start a Wildfire

By Taylor Webster —

“How to Start a Wildfire” was written and performed by The Company, a group of survivors who connected through U of L’s PEACC Center. The play is about the thoughts and feelings women experience during and after being sexually or physically assaulted.

The monologue based play features women performing their own truths. It was beautiful and powerful.

With the #MeToo movement gaining momentum, we are seeing just how many stories go untold. Women are forced into silence because of fear, embarrassment, slut-shaming and victim blaming.

“I will always remember what happened, but I can [be] me again. I want to be me again,” one survivor said.

The play started off with their stories. The Company consists of seven women, each with a story.

One woman was assaulted when she was only 4-years-old. When she told her mother she was molested, her mother ignored her. For the next 17 years, this woman struggled with her body not feeling like it was hers, depression and anxiety.

U of L’s PEACC Center gave her the tools and the therapy to begin her healing process. She ended her monologue with, “My body feels like it is my own now.”

Another woman talked about how she was selling her body and addicted to drugs and alcohol. For a while, she blamed herself for the sexual assaults and abuse. However, she realized it wasn’t her fault. Both her prostitution and addiction were her decisions, although not very good ones, they were hers. Having sex with a man when she did not want to is and will always be rape.

This woman was able to get up and tell her truth. She told the audience that she had sex with over 50 people, but “no means no.”

An emotional moment during the play was when the same woman, now a new mother, had her newborn baby brought up on stage. She spoke directly to her baby, telling her she would never allow anything to happen to her.

She told her baby she will protect her with her life and she prays in 15 years the world has changed.

The play ended with a group monologue where the woman talked about how they moved on. They found love within themselves and then within each other.

As survivors of sexual assault and abuse, they built each other up and referred to this confidence build-up as a “wildfire.”

This wildfire will spread to any survivor that needs to burn something that hurt them.

If you need immediate help for a situation related to partner violence, sexual assault, stalking or harassment, call ULPD at 502-852-6111 or 24 crisis line at 502-581-7222. The PEACC Center is located in the SAC, if you or anyone you know needs support or a resource.

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