Prior to Sunday night's Grammys, few people knew who Brooke Axtell was. But following her stunning speech prior to Katy Perry's performance of "By the Grace of God," it's likely we will hear much, much more about the domestic violence victim and sex trafficking survivor. Following an introduction from President Obama, in which the commander-in-chief discussed the importance of ending domestic violence, Axtell delivered this speech after taking the stage:
My name is Brooke Axtell and I am a survivor of domestic violence. After a year of passionate romance with a handsome, charismatic man, I was stunned when he began to abuse me. I believed he was lashing out because he was in pain, and needed help. I believed my compassion could restore him and our relationship. My empathy was used against me. I was terrified of him and ashamed I was in this position. What bound me to him was my desire to heal him. My compassion was incomplete because it did not include me. When he threatened to kill me, I knew I had to escape. I revealed the truth to my mom and she encouraged me to seek help at a local domestic violence shelter. This conversation saved my life.
Authentic love does not devalue another human being. Authentic love does not silence, shame, or abuse. If you are in a relationship with someone who does not honor or respect you, I want you to know that you are worthy of love. Please reach out for help. Your voice will save you. Let it extend into the night. Let it part the darkness. Let it set you free to know who you truly are. Valuable. Beautiful. Loved.
It would be shocking to find anyone in the audience who wasn't overcome with goosebumps following Axtell's words.
And it would be shocking to find anyone who doesn't want to hear more from Axtell. The good news is, the survivor words will only continue to spread, not only on Twitter (where you could follow her @SurvivorHealing), but also via her work with Communications for Allies Against Slavery, where she currently serves as director.
It was a surprisingly sober moment at this year's Grammys, but an all-too-necessary one — not only do the Grammys have an unfortunate history with domestic abuse, but nearly five million women still cope with violence within their homes on an annual basis. (If only anti-domestic violence got more airtime than a 60-second spot at this year's Super Bowl.) So, can anyone disagree with this sentiment?