How we got started
In 2007, I graduated from Purdue University with little vision for my life beside to make lots of money in real estate and live a comfortable life. I moved back to my hometown of Boise, Idaho, and proceeded to dump all my money into real estate.
You know what happened next. The economy took a dive, and was soon followed by my bank account, and then my feeling of self-worth.
I also discovered that I didn’t even like real estate.
In spring of 2009, after hitting the lowest point I’ve ever been to emotionally, my mom made a phone call for me to begin to see a counselor. I was too afraid and proud to make the call myself.
From my vantage point, I had just spent my first two post-college years losing all my money and failing at everything I laid my hands on. As a result, I felt as though I offered the world no value, and had no clue as to what I was good at or passionate about. I was floundering, and life wasn’t much fun.
Just prior to my mom making that phone call to the counselor, I had finally begun to connect the dots between what I was going through at the time and what I had experienced as a child. You see, when I was 6 I was molested multiple times by a family friend – someone whom I trusted. I kept it completely secret for eight years, and finally broke down to my parents at the age of 14 while having the worst panic attack of my life. Still, it took until I was 24 to finally tell my parents that it’d happened multiple times.
I kept it secret from my parents because I saw myself not as a victim (something I no longer consider myself to be), but as an accomplice in crime. I thought I’d destroy my parents, and anyone else who learned about what I’d done would never look at me the same way again. And at age 6, that negative view of myself took root and went with me through my years and into every facet of my life.
As my counselor, Swede, put it, I was “carrying a heavy backpack.”
In spring of 2009, I met Swede. He helped me finally begin to recognize the toxic lies I had always believed about myself. He helped me see that not only was I not a bad person, but I was actually a great person, with so much to offer the world. The lies were replaced with truth.
Counseling completely changed my life. And, what was once a traumatic experience has become nothing more than a bad memory.
The truth really did set me free.
In June of 2009, a month after beginning counseling, I received a call from a friend with one of the most ridiculous ideas I had ever heard. He had learned of a world record set in 1959 by two men in Las Vegas who flew a small airplane for 64 days without ever touching ground, refueling daily from a truck that drove on the ground below.
The idea: to attempt to break the world record and use the event to raise money for a cause as well as create national exposure for it.
I thought it was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard. However, after an hour of processing it, it dawned on me that an event as insane as that would, without a doubt, create a whole lot of buzz, and could create a huge platform and fundraising opportunity for an important cause.
Seven months later, after both learning to fly and pitching the flight event to a number of different organizations representing a range of causes, I decided to stop skirting around my own story, and began to focus my efforts on a cause that I was now personally prepared to speak openly about. In January of 2010, I founded what is now Speak Your Silence. And in October of that same year, we obtained IRS 501c3 status as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.
We began with the name Commit 65, which today is simply the name of the flight event that we are still pursuing, and which would be hosted as an Outspoken fundraising campaign.
Fast forward two years. In January 2012, we decided to rebuild the organization from the ground up. We began the transition from being almost entirely focused on a one-time event to becoming a focused organization with long term plans and a big picture vision.
The problem: Sexual abuse is awkward and depressing to talk about, both for those who have been through it and those who have not.
The solution: Conversation.
If we could create a way for those affected by sexual abuse to share their stories, and for others to simply rally around the cause without it feeling awkward and bummed out, things would change. Lives would be restored, marriages would last, and children would be protected from future abuse.
So, we decided to take the model of the flight event – which had proven very effective simply in breaking the ice and sparking conversation – and make it possible for supporters to rally around the cause in their own way by doing something awesome. From that, the Outspoken platform was born.
Our mission is to conquer the stigma of child sexual abuse by sparking conversation.
Our vision is to take child sexual abuse from being an awkward and depressing subject to being a cause that people love to support.
So, get involved and do something awesome. Run a marathon, grow a beard, host a poker night, or simply share your story. Break the ice and spark conversation.
Each conversation that you spark carries the power to completely transform the life of someone you love.
–Matt Pipkin, Founder/CEO