What I had thought was going to be one of the hardest days of my life proved to be a blessing of sorts. The judge was fatherly, friendly, and to the point with his questions. He even looked over at pictures of his own children making sympathetic references to our own ages when the abuse took place. He had both the gist of listening balanced with commentary on the victims remarks. The most important thing he did for us was that he believed us and validated our stories with stories of the victims who had come before us. When our inner child wants to believe it had all been a bad dream he gently affirms that your story is real and that the far reaching affects of that pain in the here and now are just as real as well. He sat in judgement of no man as each spoke of his struggles with his own inner demons or use of substance abuse to numb the psychic pain. He validated our choices of using the 12 steps as our spiritual path and our individual struggles with how the abuse had murdered our spirit and ability to trust in our Christian roots. For a moment we were all men recognizing together our universal suffering. These lawyers and this judge have become invited guests into the most secret regions of my soul. I didn't even know, until today, that I had enough strength left to let anyone else really see me. But just the simple fact that there are lawyers out there and a judge who could individually declare that we believe you has made all the difference in my life forever. and just to know that we have come from all across this country to take our power back shows that we are men and women operating from a position of strength and not of weakness. And just like all of our human family who at times have stood up for their civil rights we are joining their legacy by declaring, "We are not a minority." Every human life has value and dignity no matter how down trodden their life paths may have taken them. For many of us we reached out for the hand of friendship and religious charity and instead many found that this hand led us into experiences that children should not have to experience in their own darkest dreams. We as men, womwn, and children represent all the silenced voices of past, present and future. By our coming forward now we are paving the way for the voices of tomorrow. and let us never forget the holocaust of children throughout all of history who were not fortunate as we are to help reshape our world. Your faith and courage is already a part of the history of this diverse human family. This moment in history will never be forgotten! Why? Because we willnot let them forget. Thank you victims, advocates, lovers, family members and to history for waiting for us to get up the courage to come forward. 11/18/02