Last summer the college football world was rocked by negative news from coast-to-coast, none worse than the atrocities that went on at Baylor under the direction of Art Briles. I remember reporting on the unfolding story as a host on SiriusXM “College Sports Nation.”
I would literally have to step away from my desk during breaks to cry.
As a survivor who has experienced physical abuse at the hands of someone who claimed to love me, the Baylor scandal and stories like Jeffery Simmons at Mississippi State hit home, in the worst possible way. I had never talked about what happened to me, not even to my own family, let alone publicly. I hid the physicality of the altercation well and tried to move on.
When these stories were revealed in the news, they impacted me – deep in my gut. I didn’t know it yet, but everything that was happening to me – remembering, reporting on these horrific stories, eventually sharing my personal story – became a perfect storm of sorts. I became stirred up to take on a mission, a need to make a difference in the lives of college football players.
It was, quite simply, a call to action.
And #ChangingtheNarrative was born.
— Rachel JOY Baribeau (@RachelBaribeau) May 16, 2017
I have been labeled a domestic violence speaker by some. I am much more than that. I think my friend Paul Finebaum said it best, “You are an activist, you are just an activist of what’s right.”
I told him when I joined his show last December, just before addressing the Clemson football, that he had nailed it perfectly. I am a speaker of passion and purpose and platform. I want these young men to realize all that they were created to be and set the world on fire because of that truth. I share my life story in hopes that what I’ve endured, accomplished and learned along the way will touch these players.
I have cried with them as they embraced me after I spoke. They have whispered their hopes and dreams to me – their biggest disappointments, too. They vowed to be better.
When I am done speaking at a school, I often feel like I need 30 minutes alone in a dark room just to process what just happened. It’s that real; it’s that heavy (in the best possible way).
I leave a chunk of my soul at every stop.
That’s why when someone suggested last fall that Baylor needed me, I agreed.
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