On September 12, I had the humbling opportunity to tape a segment on the Dr. Oz show in New York City. I was asked to share my story of educator sexual abuse with Dr. Oz and his viewers.
I don’t think when I accepted the opportunity that I knew quite what I was getting myself into. We were bracing for hurricane Irma here in Florida, so I was in serious hurricane prep mode. As I flew away from my loved ones, I said lots of prayers for their safety. It was tough being away from everyone with such uncertainty of the huge approaching storm. But I knew an opportunity to raise awareness on this scale doesn’t come along every day. My heart knew where I needed to be.
When you watch a show like the Dr. Oz Show, it’s pretty tough to realize how much effort goes into its production. I had no idea just how large a team is involved in pulling off a TV show in this day and age. I talked with one of the show’s producers for several days prior to the taping. She was fantastic to work with in so many ways. She prepped me; she encouraged me; she validated me; she reassured me. The effort and care she put into each phone call, text, and email with me was impressive. Leave it to NYC women – they rock!
The morning of the taping was intense and surreal at times. I can’t even remember how many staff members I met. One thing they all had in common was clear – care. They all cared – about me, about the quality of the show, and about each other. There was a special energy in this studio that was heart-warming. I’m so pleased I got to experience that.
Honestly, I was so caught up in the energy from the first phone call through walking to the back stage, that I hadn’t really absorbed what I was about to do. And then the show began. And it all hit me at once. I stood watching a monitor as the panel was talking with Dr. Oz. I was surprised with some of the thoughts swirling through my head: Wow, who is going to see this? Is Mr. Baker going to see this? Am I safe? Am I crazy for telling the world my story?
It always astounds me that after 13 years of public speaking, writing a book, and providing interviews with various outlets that I can still have these thoughts! One would think that I’ve got it down pat by now, nothing to sweat. I suppose I want to share with others the dark thoughts that can still taunt me. Speaking your truth is not always easy. But it’s always, ALWAYS important. I guess I’m sort of grateful that I can still “freak out” before an interview or presentation. It reminds me of just how much these words need to be told and, more importantly, need to be heard. I’m just grateful that the years of practice in sharing my story have provided me with the gifts of coping skills for the little “freak-out sessions.” I can recognize them, respect them, and let them go. I want to offer that to anyone reading this who fears speaking his/her truth. Just because you may shake or cry and panic speaking your truth does not in any way diminish how profoundly beautiful your action is! Embrace it all – good, bad, and ugly. You will get through it, and it will get easier.
The interview went well. Dr. Oz was so great to work with. It was a bit hard for me to focus initially. Here I was, sitting across from a man I have seen on television for many, many years. There were monitors, bright lights, staff and crew running around, and a live audience. I just kept focusing on my breathing throughout the interview to keep me grounded, and it seemed to help me quite a bit. When our interview was finished, I was able to exchange handshakes and hugs with Dr. Oz, the entire panel, and all the supervisors. It felt as though everyone was on that stage together for this show.
The air date for the show is Thursday, October 5th. You can go to doctoroz.com and click on the tab “check listing” for exact time and channel information. I hope this show enlightens viewers on warning signs to look for in abusive teachers and the importance of speaking out. As I have always maintained, the vast majority of teachers are incredible and would never harm a child. Let’s empower all these wonderful folks on what to look for in the abusive ones and help keep our kids safe.