"For a long time, I didn't trust my own voice and story. Now, I'm learning to trust it and choosing to use it."
First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to visit my page and let me tell you a little bit more about this story, challenge, and charity.
Over the past year, I have been doing a lot of work healing from a long history of muck. In the second year of my Counseling Psychology master's program, I began working with clients and realized how important it was to process the parts of my past I had never given voice to - in order to support others in an authentic and professional way.
An ongoing theme trailed the stories of those with whom I had the privilege to work, namely sexual violence. It was pervasive. It is pervasive.
As the #metoo movement developed, narratives began to unfold; the climate of our culture merged with the stories of survivors in my community and with whom I work, while deeply connecting to my own experience.
These realities impacted and disrupted various aspects of my life. In trying to navigate them amid the challenges of relationships, school, and work, I made some mistakes, a few uncharted choices, and began to release a part of my shame.
I'm learning to have courage as I move toward the unexplored - wobbling to integrate my story, in all its context, messiness, and goodness with a renewed, resilient, and whole understanding of myself.
As a testament, I am taking some time off this summer between my Master's and Ph.D. program (in Counseling Psychology) - like a forced sabbatical - to keep healing, to keep forgiving, to build self-compassion, to feel empowered, and to speak out about the disjointing reality, widespread impact, and complex healing of sexual violence.
On June 12, I will fulfill a four-year-old dream to cycle across (a part) of the United States as I ride approximately 3,000 miles from St. Louis, Missouri to Seaside, Oregon over a 2 month period. I'll be following the Lewis and Clark trail, a bicycle route established by Adventure Cycling Association and REI. On August 12, I plan to arrive in the Pacific Northwest after a summer of stealth camping, warmshowering , Couchsurfing , and occasional motels - all in an effort to raise money for a charity I care deeply about called RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network).
The stories of those with whom I work and the survivors who surround me, those I know and those I don't, inspired me to embark on this excursion in honor of the #metoo movement and #timesup. I know, first and foremost, that the path to healing (and rights) is long. It is my hope that by going on this journey, I can honor my own story and help shorten the road of others - or prevent them entirely.
I chose to support RAINN because it is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. They provide resources for safety and prevention, work on public policy and action, and support survivors.
"Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child."
I truly believe there is hope - and that we can bolster resilience and decrease violence. It encourages me that over the past twenty years sexual violence has fallen by half.(https://www.rainn.org/statistics)
If you choose to donate, know that 93 cents of every $1 given to RAINN goes directly to helping survivors and preventing sexual violence.
I'm raising 3x the amount of mileage (3x 3,000 miles=$9,000 for you math gurus!).
Some of the funds donated (budgeting for 1/3 the miles) will be used for ride supplies and materials as well as food and support along the road.
The rest will be given to RAINN. Once I begin the ride, I will post and document a cost/budget summary to demonstrate how much money was used for the challenge and how much went directly to the charity.
Survivors will benefit from the funds raised, and I will benefit from being able to afford the ride!
I'd love to receive support as soon as possible so I can continue planning and affording the cost of gear (I already have the bike and many of the other materials).
Sharing the Message
Your support will also spark direct action.
Along the ride, I plan to share the message and encourage others to speak out (if they feel comfortable) by having conversations, interactions, and encounters.
I am starting a Facebook page and Instagram account to archive what I learn from individuals on my ride. I plan to document conversations with survivors I meet along the journey, providing space for them to tell their stories - how sexual violence and the #metoo movement impacts their lives at work, home, school and within relationships.
Follow along on Facebook and Instagram with hashtag -
Your support means so much to me, and I am grateful for your help in whatever way you are able. Brake the silence of sexual violence!
- Erin Wolff
- Scott & Cathy Swanson
- Mike Fancher
- Bailey Baker
- Alex Hetu