What’s the Point?

Breaking the silence about domestic abuse in the LGBT community

is starting early with the Breaking the Silence Awards this past weekend. The foundation says it “is the leading national organization providing resources of education, empowerment & advocacy to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or non-gender conforming survivors of Sexual & Domestic Abuse.” Founded in 2015 by abuse survivor Robert Harrell, the foundation hosted an annual awards luncheon attended by Leeza Gibbons, Angel Colon (Pulse Orlando survivor), Brad Sears, and a host of other notables.

The Pink Carpet opened at 12:30 with a strong press presence, I was in the mix, but stepped back to get away from the mad crush of media shouting questions at the celebrities, and wannabe celebrities who were making their way down the 20-foot carpet.

As I stepped back I found myself next to a woman in a peach colored summer outfit who was “wearing it for the last time this year!” Her name is Kirsty Spraggon and she had quite a story.

I asked how she found the event, she said, “I got an email so I must be on a list somewhere.

I speak professionally about ending shame and stigma so that’s the connection I imagine.”
Turns out we have more than a few things in common.

She is a motivational speaker and has an online show.

Her topics are perfectly meshed with some of the projects I’ve been working on about male survivors of abuse and I can see how she would be a great presenter at the SCRIPT conference that I help with each year downtown to end the stigma of male sexual abuse and trauma.

We’re both members of the National Speaker’s Association (NSA) and we both see how society “doesn’t really understand the damage that shame and stigma cause.

It increases addiction, violence, bullying and abusive relationships. By releasing shame and stigma, people benefit from a sense of personal acceptance. Events like this one are so important because when high profile people use their platform to share their truth, we all benefit” said Spraggon.

The I-Love Me Foundation was founded by child abuse survivor Robert Harrell who recognized that there is a lack of resources for abuse survivors, especially in the LGBTQI community. He said he wanted to “to address sexual and domestic abuse in the LGBT community.”

Bringing awareness to this vital topic is important because the biggest problem most families face is the crushing silence. Those of us who grew up with abuse in our households know all too well the lesson of “Don’t tell the neighbors what goes on in the house.” It never occurs to the abusive parents that if they weren’t doing anything wrong, there wouldn’t be anything to “not tell.”

The gay media was out in force for the OUT magazine sponsored event which honored Brad Sears for his efforts with the Williams Institute at UCLA. Former West Hollywood mayor Abbe Land was also honored for her contributions to the cause of equality and visibility.

Proposition 8 Plaintiff couple Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo were in attendance and leading by example in their advocacy of equality in the modern age. YouTube celebrity James Wright Chanel was there in the most fabulous cape. He was out to support the cause because there was a “point in time when I didn’t want to break the silence.

And I didn’t want to speak to anyone and tell anyone what was going on with me. It’s an amazing gift to be there for people that are scared to break the silence, and have their back. To let them know that no matter what you’re facing, there’s always somebody there that’s been through what you’ve been through.”

Sitting under that giant Moreton Bay Fig in the driveway of the Fairmont Miramar, with all these wonderful people who are out to support other was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

October is a busy month for domestic violence awareness but please also remember that October 11 is also National Coming Out day, so if you’re on the fence about when to come out, or if you should, there are many of us who will be there to support you.

Feel free to call me if you want to find some support, or reach out to the I-Love Me Foundation at www.i-loveme.org.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.

He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

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