Signing up for an event in Dublin, miles away from where I live, I really did not know what to expect. The Safe World Summit took place in the Mansion House in Dublin from Monday to Tuesday the 22 – 23 of October. Going into a completely unknown scenario did make me somewhat nervous, however just as fast as the nervousness and anticipation arose, as fast they disappeared.
Entering the building and being greeted by lovely, smiling and welcoming faces from all over the world was undoubtedly an amazing welcome. The tall black ceiling covered in what I suppose were to be stars, the beautiful round tables with white tablecloth, a candle in the center of each table, the bright lights illuminating the stage and the energy and wisdom in the room touched me right away and I was grateful for the opportunity to experience it.
After being seated I was surprised by the opening ceremony which was quite spiritual and very calming. The next two days were filled with amazing speakers, activists from all over the world and young leaders from SpunOut.ie.
Many amazing, truly life changing, and empowering speakers shared their experiences of domestic violence, sexual abuse, patriarchy and other societal problems which are sometimes hard to talk about, but vital to discuss. Some of the speakers included in the summit were:
Dr. Edith Eger a Holocaust survivor who became a Clinical Psychologist and, as she talked about during the event, an amazing dancer. Dr. Eger is a very inspiring woman who in her book ‘The Choice’ chooses to not focus on the horrors which she endured, but to embrace the life and freedom that she was given.
Luke and Ryan Hart talked about how their father brutally murdered their mother and their sister. From this horrifying experience they now share their story to raise awareness of controlling and coercive behaviour and promote truthfulness in media reporting.
Winnie M Li’s talked about reframing how we think about sexual violence. She allowed the audience not only a deeper look into her personal experience of sexual violence but also her state of mind which allows her to explore the life of her 15-year-old rapist.
There were many more speakers who amazed the crowd and rightfully deserved a standing ovation.
Young Voices: Interview with Charienne Layson
There were many amazing young speakers from SpunOut.ie who presented their moving poems and talks. I had the privilege to interview one of these speakers. Charienne Layson described the summit as very emotional, saying ‘some [speakers] made me want to cry and some made me laugh’ yet they were all very inspiring. She describes the moments before going up on stage herself and facing the audience. She was ‘shaking with nervousness’ yet she managed to perform an outstanding original poem about domestic violence. Charienne states: ‘As I recited my poem in front of everybody I felt like the floor beneath me was about to devour me whole but as I finished and heard the praises of the audience and saw the standing ovation they decided to bestow upon me, I felt invincible and I felt the unity of all the people in the room who believed in the possibility of a better world. I had never felt more empowered in my life.’
The inspirational speakers, their names and what they talked about is one thing, but I would like to describe to you something quite different: the feeling I had during those two days. Being surrounded by survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and sadly so much more, made me feel empowered. The speakers were truly and undeniably empowering. They gave each of us a hope for a better future.
I personally felt so overwhelmed with empowerment, yet the saddest moment was going back to my normal, daily routine and realising that these threats are still real, and one conference is not going to solve them all. So, I encourage all young people and those who took time to read this article, to get engaged in social issues, raise awareness about these issues and to be part of the solution.
The event was run by Safe Ireland