Author/activist Bobbie Becerra recently traveled all the way from California to volunteer her time as a Respectful Witness at a Truth Be Told Story Gathering at Lockhart prison. The following is what she had to say about her experience:
“When I first heard of Truth Be Told’s Talk to Me program, I was… excited? I don’t really think that is the right word, but I had this urgency to tell anyone who would listen that there is a program specifically structured for women in prison to tell their stories. This is important. No – this is CRITICAL! I needed to find a way to know more about this.
So, when I saw an invitation posted for Respectful Witnesses to visit the women and listen to them share their voices, I decided it was time to plan my visit to Texas. I partnered with a friend to attend the Lockhart event.
As I was preparing to go that evening, my excitement changed to conscientiousness. I wanted to be completely aware of my own energy and to show up clearly present and respectful. These women deserved no less than my full participation.
All visitors walked into the prison facility and followed established register. Before starting the event, our host, Katie, asked each volunteer Respectful Witness to share a word to describe what he or she was feeling.
Overwhelmed was my word. That is what I felt. I was trying to manage so many emotions at once. There is hardly a series of words that could accurately capture what I was feeling. I knew I was going to see myself, hear my story in the voices of the women speaking.
I came from a life of abuse — sexual, emotional, and physical. I lived in a gang environment. I was surrounded by alcoholism and substance abuse. Today, I still carry the effects of coming from a life full of damaging behaviors.
Knowing where I came from, I am always working — working to be well, which I am not yet, but one day will be. I know that in my own healing, my work is to be honest with myself. Honest in my voice and my assessment of my life and how I’ve lived it. I know I have to dig deep and face my truth — which is exactly what I heard in the voices of the women who shared their truths at the Story Gathering inside Lockhart prison that evening. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the event.”
Interested in volunteering as a Respectful Witness at a Truth Be Told Story Gathering or Graduation? Send an email to our program director Carol Waid at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about our upcoming events.