By: Terry Simpson
It was a beautiful night in downtown Tompkinsville as several gathered around the stage on the North side of the courthouse.
“How Great Thou Art” could be heard coming clearly through the bells at the Tompkinsville First Baptist Church, as the crowd found their seats, ready to listen to a speech from Attorney General Survivor Counsel and public speaker, Summer Dickerson, of Louisville.
Dickerson was in Tompkinsville for the second annual Break the Silence Walk held on Thursday, April 11. Ceremonies were held on Third Street and are organized by Teresa Huber and Susan and Amelia England.
Huber founded the annual event in memory of her grandmother, Clarene Adams, who was sexually assaulted and murdered in her home in 2010.
Funds raised from the event go toward helping other victims get the help and support they need.
Huber opened the event by telling those gathered about her “granny” and how she (Huber) had chosen to be a voice for her grandmother.
Through the night, speakers, such as Anne Craig and Aaron Stuart, spoke of their experiences for the first time. Local survivor Amelia England also shared her fight to have her abuser jailed and her struggles, thanking those who have encouraged her along the way.
Tompkinsville Mayor Scotty Turner signed a proclamation naming April as “Sexual Assault Prevention Month” during the event. Several booths with products and services were also set up for the attendees.
Dickerson was the closing speaker, relating her heartbreaking, yet inspiring, story.
She told of unspeakable abuse she survived starting at the age of five and continuing well into her adult years.
From sexual abuse, beatings, eating from dumpsters and being a teen runaway, to giving up her children for their own good, then realizing she was a human trafficking survivor, she somehow “made it through and found God,” she said.
She stated that after that, she met her husband and related the struggles they faced due to her psychological scars.
She joined the church, got her children back, and opened the first of two homes for sexual abuse survivors.
She complimented the ceremonies provided for survivors and their family, “What you all have here is absolutely beautiful. Some people never have this. I would have given anything to have this kind of support. Value it, appreciate it, but remember, it can happen here. It does happen here!”
Dickerson warned against the dangers of inviting predators into our homes via cell phones, social media and games played across the internet.
She encouraged parents to “get into their children’s business,” to go through their phones and to communicate with them.
“I have a teen. I know it is hard but choose your battles wisely. It will not last forever. Let the little things go but stay in their business. Keep this beautiful little town safe,” she said.
Following Dickerson’s presentation, the group participated in a candlelight vigil and observed a moment of silence for Huber’s granny, as well as all other victims, lost to sexual assault.
Dickerson seemed to not want to leave our quaint little town as she noted she had another speech the following night in Louisville. After returning home, she sat down to write a little bit about her experience in Tompkinsville on Facebook, that we felt we should share with our readers.
“As I sit here and reflect on my last couple days and the events I spoke. I wanna tell you about the first event… so amazing. God will keep you humble, let me tell you that.
So, as you all know I was in New York a couple weeks ago. Then Friday, I spoke to a room of almost 500 people… but Thursday, I was in this little town, it reminded me of Mayberry. It was small and just so peaceful. It was beautiful. I loved not hearing gunshots and ambulances every five minutes.
I went there because an amazing woman asked me to come to her event and I BELIEVE no matter where I go, God sends me and there’s always a reason.
So as the event starts, it’s like a street festival, it was all kinds of families and it was really nice. Then it was my time to speak and literally, everyone that was there sat in their seats and listened to every word I had to say
I finished my story and after I was done, I had men, women and teenagers come to me and speak their truth about things that had happened to them and just having someone say to them I BELIEVE you and I STAND with you gave each of them a power inside of them that they didn’t have before, and see, that’s why I do what I do.
Yes, I want people to be aware of what’s really going on in this world, but I also want to give individuals the space to be heard and believed.
I want to give a special shout out to Teresa Huber for putting on an AMAZING EVENT and to everyone that came, you all are ROCK STARS, and will always have a special spot in my heart.
You all blessed me more than you will ever know. THANK You GOD FOR ALLOWING ME TO MEET SOME AMAZING PEOPLE ON THIS JOURNEY. I’m so blessed. No, I’m not perfect but I’m Real and Genuine and that makes this journey amazing.”
As that Facebook post reaches thousands of people, we remember what we have all heard many times, our little town has touched another. Through her voice, we will touch many more over the years.
So, it seems to be that Huber’s goal was accomplished that night and stretches out farther into the world each day. She is a voice for her granny, and she and her group of followers truly is “breaking the silence.”