Dear Judge Aquilina

An open letter to the Honorable Judge Aquilina

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Photo Credit: Lansing State Journal

Honorable Judge Aquilina,

We have watched in wonder and awe hour after hour of victim statements that have captivated our work days the past few weeks. When we were not crying at our desks during testimony we were wringing our hands in anger chatting about culpability and the lack of response from the greater community all this time.

As leaders of either staff or students, we know the responsibility and accountability rises all the way to the top. When all others in leadership positions failed them, you stepped forward. What these women needed so desperately, you gave them.

While you claim that your robe didn’t come with a wand, we see that differently. To be able to get so intimate with victims and to offer soothing advice after laying their souls bare in public is really a thing of magic. Affirming the self-worth of each and every victim, repeatedly focusing the blame on Nassar, meeting their emotional enthusiasm is a remarkable, even heroic response. Understanding these victims is an incredible emotional burden and investment that we are incredibly impressed by.

As survivors of abuse ourselves, we wished we had you as our advocate and confidant all those years ago, when shame, self-loathing, sadness and anger were all we had. The fact is, the world has never been friendly to survivors, turning the situation into a “he said/she” said event with blame often falling to the victim. As soon as you come forward, the rest of your world is destroyed…having to make the decision to speak up and accept that you will be hated or to keep silent and live with the pain…it isn’t a choice that anyone wants to make. There is no win/win.

Today we woke to news of Lou Anna Simon’s resignation, and while you may feel you only played a small part, the platform you gave the survivors made national news and put the pressure on Michigan State University, and supporting organizations, that was so desperately needed. We have no doubt that this will lead to an independent investigation that will unearth dark and sinister secrets that the University and others have tried to bury for years.

Your tireless advocacy, empathy and grace has led us to a new day in the “Me Too” movement. We will no longer feel compelled to be silent and we will think of you when we speak out and tell our stories. Thank you.

Kim Bode, 8ThirtyFour Integrated Communications & Adrienne Wallace, Grand Valley State University

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