Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Kindness Project--One Phone Call

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good.  But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole . It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts.

This week I have my book on my brain. RAPE GIRL, was released this month (a bit earlier than expected!) and, as a result I've received several emails and interview requests to discuss it.  The main question I've seen, so far, has been some variation of "How much of this book is real?"

So I'd like to talk about one kernal of "real" for The Kindness Project because it was a moment of kindness that has stayed with me for almost 20 years.

Navigating life as a young rape survivor, who outed myself as such, was a bit like playing a game of CLUE. Someone handed everyone in my life a whole new set of personality cards and not a single person was at all the same as they had been the day before. It was disorienting and lonely and scary. Except in one particular case.
I got a phone call, a week or so after I was raped, from a girl I wasn't friends with and hardly knew. She said she was calling to make sure I was okay--that she believed me and thought that I was really tough for pressing charges  This girl was nowhere near a bleeding-heart and her out of the blue phone-call felt miraculous.
We didn't talk for long, and I don't remember ever speaking to her again. There was a trial, and the blur of the remainder of the school year, and then my family moved away and I never went back. But that call stuck with me, and formed  part of my backbone. I wanted to be her for other people.  Her validation meant so much to me.

That girl was the inspiration for a character in my book named Sandrina, and writing her was an amazing experience. It gave me the chance to explore the "what-ifs" that had been in the back of my mind for so many years.

One brief call of support made an impact that will last a lifetime.  Kindness is powerful stuff!

[I realize that I didn't take this as far as I should and described ways I have and would like to pay it forward. I started, but could not share the details I was planning to without worrying about betraying anyone's trust. I hope the sentiment comes through all the same.]

Also posting today for The Kindness Project:

Elizabeth Davis
Christa Desir
Sarah Fine
Elana Johnson
Liza Kane
Amie Kaufman
Sara Larson
Jessica Corra
Sara McClung
Gretchen McNeil
Tracey Neithercott
Lola Sharp
Michele Shaw
Meagan Spooner
Carolina Valdez Miller
Matthew MacNish

Be sure to check them out :D We post the second Wednesday of every month. Want to join us? Grab our button and spread a little kindness.


  1. So perfectly put. Thank you for writing this. I'm so glad you had someone reach out to you that way. Sometimes it's the tiniest, least expected kindnesses that mean the most. We can all do more for each other.

    And congratulations on your book release! I somehow missed that news. May it (and your) journey be a fulfilling one that gives some measure of comfort and kindness to others.

    1. Thanks so much, Rebecca! The book release took me by surprise, as well. I hope you're right about it giving comfort to others.

  2. Hugs to her! I ditto everything Rebecca said. I have several tiny moments that have changed my life.

    Anyway, thanks, Alina! This post made my day a little brighter. :)

  3. What a great person you encountered! And I bet she has no idea what she did for you. I love Sandrina! Smart, sassy and no-nonsense. I'd want to be her too. xoxo

  4. That girl... Wow, what a difference one phone call can make, especially during such a horrible time. Reaching out to validate what someone is doing/thinking/feeling can be such a powerful gesture.

    I've heard phenomenal things about RAPE GIRL--especially at BEA. I'll be picking up my own copy soon. :)

  5. Wow...that girl is a hero. Man, I hope somehow she reads this post and your book. Her one act of kindness has've paid it forward to help others, inspired by her. She's inspired me. YOU inspire me. <3

  6. I didn't realize that your book was in any way based on real life experience, aside from what has happened to others. That's pretty powerful, your bravery in the way you dealt with it and are still dealing with, and this girl in her call to you. I wonder if she has any idea of the lasting impact that call has had? I know from experience how one small act of reaching out can affect you forever and ever. I suppose, like you, it is the small--but HUGE--kindnesses of others that drives me to want to do the same. It's amazing, this domino effect.

    You're pretty inspirational, you know.

  7. There are not enough words. You are brave and fearless. I wasn't so. And it took too long to get there but now, now, finally my phone calls have come to in the form of amazing supportive writer survivors.

  8. Oh wow. I suppose it might seem like a small and simple thing to those of us outside the experience, but I imagine it was hugely important. Both for you and her.

    I think this is exactly what TKP is about. Shedding light on things that we might not otherwise be aware of as acts of kindness.

    Also, just a side note, but I wasn't following your blog! WTH is wrong with me? I've fixed it now.

  9. I like a lot about this, but the part I'm taking away is the idea that you may never truly understand the impact kindness has

  10. I wonder if that person knows how much she affected you with that one phone call? I mean, obviously she didn't do it for herself, but still ... thank you for sharing this, and the powerful effects of just a few minutes of thoughtfulness.

  11. Aside from Valerie, Sandrina was my favorite character! I never realized she was inspired from someone in your real life. This is kind of amazing because she helped you and you created Sandrina and Sandrina's character will inspire other girls to hold out a hand in the same way. I doubt she has any idea the impact she had (or will have) on many different lives by just that one phone call.

  12. How amazing that such a 'small' thing had such a massive impact on you, even after all these years. How brave you are to stand up and be counted all those years ago. I shall definitely put your book at the top of my TBR pile. Best of luck with it.

  13. Hmm... I would say you wrote this perfectly. And that kernel of wisdom is something we can all use. Just do it, sort of, on the kindness front. I've thought nice things before about something someone's done or whatever, but most of the time I'd just let it go. As an adult, I've come to realize that *telling* the person makes all the difference--even if I feel weird doing so. You never know the story behind the act or behavior. Great post, Alina! And here's to your book soaring~ :o)

  14. I didn't know your book was based off of your own experience. That girl was right: you're tough and brave for pressing charges. And props to that girl for doing the hard thing. I think sometimes we feel embarrassed to be kind—I don't know her that well, do I have the right to call her? Will she think I'm being nosy? But you're right that those surprising acts of kindness are some of the very best.

  15. Amazing story. I had goosebumps reading this post. You are so right, we have no idea how much our actions can touch another's life. Something we should all probably keep in mind more often. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    1. Thank you for the visit and the comment, Ruth. It still gives me goose-bumps remembering it. :)

  16. Alina, your story is inspiring to me. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us and having the courage to do so. It's amazing how a single phone call or simple smile can do the trick - I know it sounds cliche, but it is true! At my college, we have summer reading books and the summer I became a freshman we had to read "Picking Cotton," which is a true story about a young woman who was raped and a man who was wrongly accused of the crime. I had the pleasure of meeting both authors (the very man and woman in the book) when they came to give a talk at my school. I highly recommend it!

    By the way, I'm hosting an awesome blogfest and critique giveaway at my blog from June 22-24 that you should totally come participate in if you're interested! :) Hope you have a great day.

    ~Wendy Lu

    The Roarin' Twenties Poetry Blogfest + Chapter Critique Giveaway (hosted by The Red Angel)


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