Helping others find their voice

On Friday the 14th of June 2019, Madeline Black told her powerful story of rape, forgiveness and how to find your voice. It was such a powerful story. Madeline shares her TEDxGlasgow experience and the impact her talk has made.

On the day I spoke, people knew what the title was but not the content of my talk. The audience came along for a variety of topics, but I can’t imagine they expected to hear about sexual violence and rape. So, I’m assuming my story would have surprised a lot of people in Glasgow, reaching a very different, more male dominated audience than I usually speak to. However, many men shared examples about a friend or relative who’ve faced a form of abuse or similar experience.

I feel that my message resonated with many people on the day and not just those with experiences of rape or abuse.  During the event, people shared their stories with me and said whilst they might not have had a similar experience, my talk helped them to address certain aspects in their own life, such as what they hold onto or can’t let go of and forgiving themselves or others.

We can’t be naive or brush topics like this under the carpet or use easier language to make it easier for people to digest

I appreciate that my talk could be triggering for some people who aren’t in such a healed place as me, and as a psychotherapist, I would advise them to practice self-care when watching my talk, as I speak very explicitly around the details of my rape and feel they should only watch it when they feel ready themselves.

I know that many young people were present on the day and saw my TEDxGlasgow talk.  Some people may feel that they are too young to hear stories of trauma like mine, but I was only 13 at the time and feel they are never too young to be educated about rape or sexual violence.  Sadly, I know that there will be people in the audience that were younger than me who have been raped or abused. We can’t be naive or brush topics like this under the carpet or use easier language to make it easier for people to digest. I feel I wouldn’t be honest, which is why I share it exactly as it was for me.

There were some High school pupils present within the audience at the event, and I’ve consequently learned about a young woman who opened up about being raped too just minutes after I spoke. They informed their teacher about being affected and has since been fully supported, taking steps to heal and informed the police.  I’ve since gone to the school to meet the pupil and I was impressed by the amazing care and support the school and teachers offer.

The young woman told me she was nervous about telling anyone and had kept it secret for three years, but she told me “After I heard you on stage, I couldn’t keep it in”. Sharing how listening to me gave her hope touched me so much and the initial email from her head teacher made me cry! She is a perfect example of why I speak out and is the evidence that I need to know that the impact of my talk has helped her to find her own voice and speak her truth.

Speaking to 2000 people was terrifying, as it was my largest audience!  And on stage I noticed my husband crying despite having heard me speak many times, which almost made me cry too! He said he felt overwhelmed emotionally as in that moment he appreciated the huge journey I’ve been on for the last few years, to share such a private and painful story so publicly on stage.  I had a lot of great coaching and work to get my talk to be just 10 minutes long and I imagine my speaker experience has had an impact on myself and my coach who listened to me every week for 10 weeks.

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It was so freeing to stand in my truth on the red circle, sharing my story with no shame and not caring who knows any more. It has taken me years to get to that place!! Speaking to so many people was one of the scariest but most liberating moments of my life too and I know that experience has taught me not to be phased by the numbers in the audience.  It has definitely increased my confidence to continue sharing with greater self-belief and impact. 

My talk going online has had amplified the reach of my story, and LinkedIn connections have grown tremendously. I was recently contacted by someone working in HR, expressing interest in my message about healing and hope which he believed would benefit his employees. His thoughts were “If my employees aren’t healed, then how can they do their job properly or function?”. It was an evolution of my topic that I didn’t foresee, and I will see where it goes, but I feel it’s an example of how my talk reaches everyone differently.

So many people who got in touch with me afterwards were really impressed by the famous red dot and the TEDx brand and I’m so grateful that my application was successful. It’s been great to have had the opportunity to speak from the TEDxGlasgow platform as it has given me the opportunity to help spread my message far and wide, helping others to find their voice and speak out too.

Listen to Madeleine Black’s talk and hear how her story keeps helping people find their voice. Have you been inspired by any of our TEDxGlasgow speaker ideas? Let us know at [email protected]

  • Written by Zeb Ahmed
  • Posted on September, 16 2019

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