Shattering the Silence on Sexual Abuse


Registration is open for the third annual Shatter the Silence.
Read more about the event below. 

Race date: Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013
Time: Day of Registration – 5p – 6:15p
Race start: 6:30p
Course: 2-mile (Ledges Trails) and 6-mile (Ledges Trails plus Pine Grove) course on the Ledges Trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. A detailed course map will be added June 10, 2013. 

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The Ledges Trails are some of the most scenic in the area. Whether you are running or hiking, you will enjoy every moment on the trails. 

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Shattering the Silence on Sexual Abuse
By Mary Anne Klasen 

For most people, wearing a purple shirt has no significance. For some participants of Shatter the Silence on Aug. 16, it will be momentous.

The third-annual, seven-mile trail race benefits the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties. In 2011, race organizer and Grunt Girl Racing co-founder Stacy Rhea gave runners an option: Select a white shirt to signify support for the cause. Select a purple one to let others know you’re a survivor of sexual abuse and ready to “shatter the silence” attached to one of society’s biggest secrets.

As a survivor, Rhea knows how important it is to acknowledge the past.

“Opening up about what happened freed me,” she says. “Hiding it took energy. I now share my experience in hopes that it will free others.”

Offering participants the choice to wear purple (the color of the crisis center’s logo) is one big step toward shattering the silence.

“When we offered the option of white or purple, I was surprised how many people were willing to wear purple,” Rhea says. “Several of the Grunt Girls stepped up and joined me. I had no idea more than a handful of the girls on the team were survivors.”

Megan Flanigan was one of them. And it wasn’t an easy decision. Flanigan serves as mayor of Grafton in addition to working as a manager at General Plug and Manufacturing

“I chose to wear a purple shirt because I felt it was time to stop hiding from my past,” says Flanigan, who turns 31 on July 8 and has come a long way since being raped in high school. “I had fought many years keeping this to myself and in doing so I was unhappy and not facing those demons that would creep back into my life periodically.

“I have learned to own my past; it is what made me into the person that I am today,” Flanigan adds. “Wearing the purple shirt was empowering.”

Similarly, wearing purple wasn’t easy for Zach McCardel, a 31-year-old computer programmer from Mount Vernon.

“I had no problem revealing my secret to strangers, but my sister was running the race with me and she didn’t know,” says McCardel, who was assaulted as a 6-year-old by an extended family member. “In the end, I thought it was important for people to recognize that this problem affects men, too, and in far greater numbers than you think.”

The numbers are startling. According to statistics from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), someone in the United States is sexually assaulted every two minutes. One out of every six American women, and one out of every 33 men, has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in his/her lifetime, according to the Medina-Summit center.

Dana Zedak, director of community relations for the crisis center, says events like Shatter the Silence are important both for survivors and for her organization.

“While going public isn’t required for people to heal, it is a good tool,” Zedak says. “It lets people say, ‘I’m not to blame. I didn’t do anything wrong.’

“Considering the statistics, we all should become more aware of the problem, get involved and speak up because we’re all going to have contact with a friend, a sister, a partner in our lives – or ourselves – who is a survivor,” she adds.

Last year’s contribution of about $500 doesn’t sound like a lot, but Zedak says it’s sorely needed.

“We’re getting less and less money from grants and foundations, so we really appreciate events like this,” she says.

Flanigan, McCardel and Rhea agree that speaking out is important. They also agree that Shatter the Silence is a great way to come together and, well, shatter the silence.

“It’s an empowering experience for survivors, but it’s also a fun, friendly, supportive environment for all runners,” Flanigan says. “I encourage everyone to come out and run with us, become empowered by breaking your silence or come out to have a good time on the beautiful trails with really happy people.”

“It’s a beautiful trail,” McCardel adds. “They’re beautiful people. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening outside.”

Shatter the Silence Trail Race starts at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 at the Ledges Shelter in Peninsula. For more information and all race details, visit www.gruntgirlracing.com.

Special thanks to our sponsors: Fleet Feet Sports, Century Cycles and North Coast Multisports

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