Zachary Pullin, Vice President of the Capitol Hill Community Council, contributes to CHS about community civics and politics on a monthly basis.
Each week, my partner and I have my sister over for dinner. Before she leaves for the drive home, I remind her to be safe, walk with awareness, and text me immediately when she’s home. She’s a smart woman and I have faith she’d fight against violence. So, I was shocked at my becoming numb that foggy, winter morning when someone stole my power.
I did not plan to tell anyone about the sexual assault he inflicted on me three months ago. I self-prescribed a daily treatment of denial and suppression nurtured by a tenacious abundance of sadness, shame, and frustration. Violence and oppression separate us from our self, our bodies, and our communities.
I became a refugee from my own body.
Just three weeks after the assault, a mentor asked me if I sought power, if people like me should want power. I shuddered because, to me, power had become a swear word. “Power” – much like the words “God,” “Love,” and “Progressive” — needs a reset to eliminate disparate, often conflicting, definitions that arise from deeply held beliefs about their meanings.
The Capitol Hill Community Council’s own history provides examples of power being used to actively lobby against a gay community center in the 1970s to prevent “perverts” and people of that “lifestyle” from ruining the neighborhood, or earlier neighborhood group iterations as active proponents of redlining. Negative illustrations and exercises of power in government, business, and social settings certainly repel me as it does so many progressive Seattleites. Continue reading