Darkness To Light: It Takes A Village

A while back, my friend Robert Prioleau invited me to help with a re-branding project for Darkness To Light, the Charleston-based non-profit working to end child sexual abuse. I got the opportunity to meet with D2L’s CFO, Jolie Logan, who was heading up the project, and it was a big one: a new identity, courtesy of the mega-talented Gil Shuler; a new website courtesy of the teamwork and talents of designer Sarena Norton, Blackbaud, Blue Ion and the driven, committed folks at D2L; plus, a new tagline, copy and positioning by me.

I should express my undying respect for Jolie Logan and the D2L team’s hard work and can-do attitude to see these projects through. A re-branding project is always a bold and exciting time for an organization…and truth be told, it’s a bit of a gamble, because it involves change. And I may be a bit biased, but I think the new logo, positioning, tagline and website bring a renewed energy and commitment to an organization that doesn’t just say what they want to do…they do it and continually find ways to empower more people to help them do it. Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved with the project. It’s been an incredible experience.

Logo by Gil Shuler Graphic Design.
Darkness To Light homepage
The Issue

Here’s a bit of the copy I wrote:

Think of 4 girls you know.

Now guess which one will be sexually abused before she’s 18.

Now think of 6 boys you know.

Which one of them will be sexually abused before he’s 18?

No one wants to think about it.

That’s what abusers of children count on, of course. Shame, embarrassment, fear, confusion.

They keep children silent.

They keep adults ignorant.

They keep truth hidden in the dark.

Why should you care?

It doesn’t happen in your town.

At your school.

In your church.

Actually, it does.

In fact, more than 90% of abusers are people children know, love or trust.

And the cost is great.

The reality is that one incident of childhood sexual abuse costs a community nearly $14,000.

The emotional cost in incalculable.
Research shows that people who are sexually violated as children are far more likely to experience psychological problems often lasting into adulthood, including Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, depression, suicide, substance abuse and relationship problems.

Child sexual abuse is not the problem of one region, race, creed, socio-economic status or gender. It impacts every community and every person in America.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse don’t just suffer emotionally. They suffer physically.

  • Victims of childhood sexual abuse are more likely to suffer from obesity.
  • Are more likely to suffer from heart disease.
  • Are more likely to engage in destructive behavior with drugs and alcohol.

In fact, if child sexual abuse were like most childhood diseases, the prevalence and consequences of it would lead to telethons to raise money for its cure. But child sexual abuse is one of the last cultural taboos. With the exception of child-focused personal safety programs, almost nothing is being done to address it. That’s where Darkness to Light and the good news beings.From volunteers to educators to donors, being an active participant in the mission to end childhood sexual abuse is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

Learning the facts about sexual abuse helps prevent it.
Read the 7 Steps to Protecting Our Children to learn simple, proactive steps you can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly.

Talking about it helps prevent it.
We make sure our children are in car seats and seat belts. We walk them across busy streets. We ask our teens where they are going and who they will be with. All to keep them safe. And yet, when it comes to the crime of sexual abuse, we often grow silent. Darkness to Light stands ready to help you find the words to have the conversation every family needs to be safe and empowered.

Getting involved helps prevent it.
From volunteers to educators to donors, being an active participant in the mission to end childhood sexual abuse is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

If childhood sexual abuse can be prevented, it can be stopped. Through awareness, education and prevention, children can move from silence to exuberance. Adults can move from ignorance to empowerment.

And truth can move from darkness to light.

Meet Robert Prioleau

Hello, my name is Robert Prioleau.

I’ve known Robert Prioleau (pree-low for you Northern types) for going on five years. During that time, we’ve collaborated on projects, commiserated/dorked-out over brand mantras, taglines, manifestos and tossed back the occasional cocktail. A while back, he asked me to help write his bio for the new Blue Ion website, and of course, I jumped at the chance.

Not only did Robert provide great fodder and fun facts about himself, he asked for and expected the tomfoolery and irreverence that makes working together so fun and inspiring. Thanks, RP, it’s always a pleasure.

That being said, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Robert Prioleau, Founding Partner & Strategy Director of Blue Ion.

P.S. This is the extended, disco version. A shorter version now resides on the Blue Ion site.

Although there is no “official” confirmation, it’s widely believed that Robert Prioleau emerged from the womb with one pressing question: Why? It’s believed this early inquisitiveness led to a lifetime of list making, brow furrowing and drawing of Venn diagrams.

Though birthed in the Northeast, Robert spent his childhood reluctantly donning the occasional Christmas sweater and moving…to Texas, New Jersey and Virginia. Still itching, perhaps from the sweaters, he moved to Nashville where he earned a degree in Latin American history from Vanderbilt, then to Austin where he received an MBA in marketing (and a serious horns habit) from the University of Texas.

For the record, Robert believes brunch is what’s wrong with America. No one has ever adequately explained the mass appeal of sitting inside eating while the best part of the day ticks by. Before you ask, outside brunch is out too.

Before launching Blue Ion, which in its early days doubled as a boy band, Robert tripped the light fantastic with GSD&M Advertising in Austin; Fitzgerald & Company Advertising in Atlanta and BellSouth.net Internet Services in Atlanta.

After tunneling out of Atlanta, Robert found himself happily stuck in the pluff mud of Charleston, South Carolina where he landed a job with Rawle-Murdy Associates and met those other boys with serious haircuts.

At Blue Ion, Robert’s role, equal parts sheepherder, strategist and therapist, is integral to the work of bringing out the best in clients, brands and customers. It’s also quite entertaining.

If Robert was a collection of “I’d rather be” bumper stickers, he’d “rather be:” outside, on a bike, on a skateboard, playing with hound dogs, playing harmonica or sipping tequila. All at once is a life goal.

Though deeply troubled by lightning and ventriloquist mannequins, Robert soothes himself by serving as Chair of the Trust for Public Land’s South Carolina Advisory Council, Strategic Advisor to New Carolina’s Creative Industries Cluster, and sits on the boards of Charleston Moves, The Lowcountry Housing Trust and the Charleston Academy of Music. His magnum opus and great joy is helping raise the best daughter ever with his wife, Rachel.

On mothering

I kicked off Mother’s Day weekend on Friday at the MUSC Children’s Hospital with Mary Norton and a lovely group of kids and parents. About three or four times a year, Mary works with the folks at MUSC to put together a purse-making party for children in the hospital and their families. This was my first time participating, and I will definitely do it again.

Mary’s friends set out an array of bags, tassels, fabrics, jewels, feathers and embellishments galore. The children and parents chose their bag and decor and worked with volunteers like Blue Ion’s Robert Prioleau and me to create their own individually designed handbag.

Our first child, a sweet-faced boy with an I.V. pole by his side, set right to work on a purse for his Mom. (He went right for the jewels, and it was beautiful!)

I had the chance to work with a Mom, Sophia, whose daughter was too ill to join us. Together, we decorated two purses, and as we sat side by side chatting with other purse-makers, it occurred to me that making something beautiful with your hands is such a satisfyingly peaceful feeling. In that moment, what you create has your full attention and care. It’s almost like taking a long, deep breath.

I can’t begin to know what these children and their families endure, but I can tell you it’s inspiring to be in their presence. Thanks to Mary and the great people at MUSC for making it happen.

When Sunday rolled around, and I found myself here at home and not with my own Mom (who lives in Ohio), I began thinking of all the important women in my life who have “mothered” and nurtured me. My Mom, of course, gets top billing, not just because she had the supreme pleasure of birthing me (sorry about my big head, Mom) but also because she’s a character, a great storyteller and unafraid to indulge in silliness.

Plus, she’s queen of memorable lines, including this gem: “Is there enough room in the crotch?”

Mom at her surprise 65th birthday party.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom and all of the women who’ve mothered me along the way. I simply wouldn’t be here without you.