There were some hitches that threatened to derail the 2009 Stop Child Abuse March and Rally. Firstly, the venue switched at short notice forcing a change in destination. Secondly, part of the march route was sidelined to the pavement rather than the street, which we suspect had something to do with an Army parade later in the day. Finally, good old London Underground closed two major subway tube lines allowing easy access to parts of the march route. These factors influenced my decision to go straight to the rally for my very first experience of the event.
Once I got there, having canceled one meeting and fighting off the flu to make the meeting, it was like an open air mass group therapy session to be in the company of so many fellow survivors and their friends and relatives. The annual taking of the mic to speak out about child abuse was a running theme throughout the day although this year the rally also built up to handing in a petition to 10 Downing Street as well.
As well as the great atmosphere brought about by the organisers, marchers and attendees, it was great to have total strangers come up and also share their stories just by dint of having seen the rally there and getting the inspiration to speak out without having had prior knowledge of the event.
Even better was the meeting up with people with whom I had only previously exchanged message board postings and meeting new faces and the people we all knew already from their TV interviews. The merchandise was good quality but only came from one single agency. If you visit the Survivors Manchester website and check out the artwork samples from just one survivor, the second one of which, had been printed on T-Shirts for them to wear â€“ these are good enough to sell and I hope they will print some up for interested parties. What was also lost in the rush was the reminder to newcomers to wear purple, though I didnâ€™t check the site closely enough to spot that running theme in last yearâ€™s photos! (though they could spray your hair the right colour if required, at the rally!).
The atmosphere was certainly enough to make me forget the flu and the speaking out was like disclosing for the first time to an individual therapist. Combining the impact of the entire day with the journey home amongst travel delays did wipe out the rest of my night and I slept for 12 hours. That was a throwback to my first ever solo therapy session to become that tired and have the menthol-head feeling, so that is one thing I would say; as a survivor going to this event for the first time, ensure youâ€™ve cleared your entire schedule afterwards, not just for a drink when the rally finishes, but also to really sleep off the event.
So however much of the event you attend or however long you stay, you can view the Stop Child Abuse Rally as an event that you should aspire to attend at least once whether you go before, during or after your healing process. The rally was ten times more cathartic than the group meeting which was effectively canceled by low attendance in the same week. Just donâ€™t forget to wear purple when you go!