Speaking Up is Daunting, Remaining Silent is Dangerous: Yes, I’m With Her, and Here’s Why I’ll Shout it From the Rooftops

Blog by Bri Prooker, KOTAW Girl Gang member at KOTAW Content Marketing, boutique branding through storytelling studio

Hillary Clinton for President op-ed by Bri ProokerThe one and only memory I have from pre-school is waiting, terror-filled, for what seemed like an eternity, for my mom to come back and pick me up so I could ask her why my arm was bleeding.

I was too shy to ask the teacher, too afraid to let any of the other children see the bright red blood streaming down my arm — it was as though I thought I’d done something wrong and had to hide it.

Turns out, as my mom explained so empathetically and lovingly after picking me up from pre-school, a mosquito had bit me and left a stream of blood (which I didn’t yet know could happen). My mom hugged me, wiped away the blood and felt so awful that I had been terrified of the blood on my arm for so long — and worse — that I’d been even more fearful to ask for help.

In second grade, I obediently put my head down on my desk (the whole class was being punished, though I don’t remember why) and subserviently restrained from making a peep, as instructed.

I didn’t raise my hand to tell my teacher that my palm was swollen astronomically, that during recess I had clutched my hand in my coat pocket, only to discover I was grasping a bee.

Apparently a bee sting for me wasn’t just a bee sting. I suffered an allergic response, but suffered in silence, because I was too afraid to speak up.

Making My Voice Heard

As a child, I was not just shy; I was paralyzed with fear when a teacher called on me to give my answer or opinion. To me, the seemingly simple task of raising my hand was akin to stripping naked in front of my entire class and having them all laugh at me. I held my breath and prayed for invisibility any time a teacher looked out at the rows of budding faces and always, always seemed to hone in on my palpable fear. Hearing “Brijana?” from any and all teachers was cue for my body to go into panic fight or flight mode. My heart started racing, I became short of breath and my brain went blank. My voice was so little that no teacher could ever hear me, adding to my mortification. I was repeatedly told to “speak up” and each time I heard those words, my voice got quieter and quieter — and my peers laughed louder and louder.

The abuse I suffered due to my father’s sociopathy paralyzed me in my childhood years, so much so that I couldn’t even respond to a classmate’s question as simple as: “What kind of music do you like?” I thought my whole world would crumble if I said I loved Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand instead of Ace of Base or Boys II Men. So I said nothing or, “I don’t know, what do you like?” Then promptly agreed with whatever was said in an ill-advised attempt to fit in and not be questioned.

But I’m no longer a child. I’m no longer afraid of my abusive father or what anyone else thinks of me.

And I think it’s beyond time to make my voice heard. Which is why I would like each and every person reading this to know I’m wholeheartedly and vehemently with her.

Yes, that’s right: I voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary and I will vote for her to be our next president come November.

Sorry, Emily Post

I am well aware of the etiquette of not mixing politics with business, not talking politics with friends.

As a member of a content marketing team specializing in branding, my take on the subject has, up until now, been NOT to talk about politics on your blog, website or social media accounts —unless it is inherently part of your brand (and in most cases it’s not).

Mixing politics and business is polarizing — why lose half your clientele by writing long political rants on Facebook when you could keep your political views to yourself and let your social media feeds focus purely on your brand or product?

But this is not a regular election. This election is not about opposing policies — it’s about making sure a sociopath (and I unfortunately am very well acquainted with the definition) does not set foot in the Oval Office.

Speaking Up

This should be the easiest election yet — a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote against evil — but as I scroll through my social feeds and engage in conversations with people in real life, what I see and hear over and over and OVER again is that people don’t “like” Hillary so won’t vote for her.

This is a very dangerous — not to mention, irrational — stand to take.

Which is why I’m speaking up and urging everyone to vote for Hillary Clinton, Facebook un-friending be damned.

This election is just too important to worry about people not “liking” what I have to say.

Which is why I’m taking Meredith Grey’s words from Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy to heart:

“Don’t let fear keep you quiet. You have a voice, so use it. Speak up. Raise your hands. Shout your answers. Make yourself heard. Whatever it takes, just find your voice, and when you do, fill the damn silence.”

Meredith Grey quote - You have a voice

My Voice, My Choice

So here’s how I’m going to fill the silence:

1)  I am fed up with women having to be “likable.” My screenplay Love Abridged (which I plan to direct, produce and star in) delves deeply into the issue of women in an appalling number of Hollywood films having to fall down — either physically or emotionally — in order for both men and women to like them.

The thinking goes something like this: A strong woman is intimidating to men because they will fear her — and intimidating to women because they will be jealous of her. So make her fall flat on her face so that men will find her adorable (it plays into their damsel in distress fantasies) and women will relate to her (it makes them feel better about themselves if even their fave A-list actress can’t walk five feet at a time without tripping).

I don’t give a damn if you like Hillary.

You’re not choosing whether or not to make her prom queen or picking her to be your best friend or lover.

Do you LIKE Donald Trump?! A man who hates women and the disabled (that’s two checks against me), who wants to take away women’s right to choose their health care needs and eradicate Obamacare (that saved my life, by the way, when I needed to be rushed to the ER three times two years ago and then hospitalized for my rare and debilitating autoimmune conditions — and which continues to save my life by paying for bi-monthy doctor appointments, regular blood tests and too many medications to count). Do you LIKE a man who wants to overturn the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking marriage equality ruling and who routinely makes homophobic remarks? A racist whose catchphrase is “build a wall” to keep out Mexican immigrants he deems “rapists”? Do you LIKE a man who is inherently a bully, who viciously taunts protestors and who has made it disturbing clear in his egoism that HE ALONE can SAVE the United States, despite having absolutely NO EXPERIENCE in government? Do you LIKE a man whose entire platform relies on inducing FEAR and CONTROLLING people with FEAR?

Because if you do, I’ll give you the name of my father, who thrived on controlling my mom, sister and me with fear, who abused us all and then threw my mom into oncoming traffic when she left him, who hired a hit man to follow us in New York and who used every arsenal available to him to make our lives a living hell until we went into hiding, said NO MORE to fear and came out of hiding to tell other women that there is hope and happiness to be found on the other side of domestic violence and abuse.

As I mentioned, I know a sociopath when I see one. And if you LIKE Donald Trump, you are condoning hate, abuse, violence and fear.

I would like to assume that anyone reading my words here on the KOTAW blog prefers love, peace and experience and is not ignorant or deluded enough to vote for a sociopath.

So regardless of whether or not you like Hillary Clinton, vote for her, speak up for her, “don’t let fear keep you quiet”. Because not standing up for Hillary is undifferentiated to liking and voting for Trump. And in my opinion, that’s the epitome of unconscionable.


Bri and Ivy support Hillary for President. (So does Doosis, who snuck into the pic — look for the loaf on the left!)

2)  Yes, I do like Hillary. I respect and admire her strength, tenacity, bravery and dedication to fighting for human rights. But before I write an essay on everything I love that Hillary Clinton has already done for our country and everything I love that she has plans to do, let me make it VERY CLEAR that if Bernie Sanders had won the Democratic nomination for President, despite the fact that I didn’t vote for him in the primary, I would be very publicly — and proudly — FEELING THE BERN.

Not just because I’m a progressive Democrat but because Donald Trump is the other option.

If I could vote for George W. Bush to come back and be president I would vote for HIM over Donald Trump — that should tell you how dead serious I am about Donald Trump not being elected.

I wholeheartedly disagree with George W. Bush on political issues (not to mention he completely destroyed our economy) and was genuinely scared when he was elected (twice!) to be our president — and remained scared each and every day he was in office.

But he wasn’t a sociopath. If my choices were voting for a sociopath versus voting for a Republican, I would vote for a run-of-the-mill Republican each and every time.

How lucky are we that these aren’t our election choices?!

We get to vote for Hillary, who inspired these words from President Obama that could not ring more true:

“I can say with confidence, there has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, not anybody — more qualified to serve as President of the United States of America.”

And regardless of whether or not you like Hillary, you should feel PRIVILEGED to be able to vote for her because in doing so, you’ll be saying NO to bigotry and NO to allowing an abhorrent, volatile man to be trusted with nuclear weapons.


Women’s rights are human rights… And human rights are pittie rights.

3)  I think we should be jubilantly celebrating the ginormous crack Hillary Clinton placed in the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman nominee for president.

And as a whole, I don’t feel that we are. Or at least we’re not being vocal enough about it.

After listening to Hillary Clinton’s goose bump-inducing acceptance speech, I woke up the next day expecting the world to be different.

It had to be, after Hillary Clinton had stood tall and proud on that giant stage at the Democratic convention and said “Tonight, we’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union:  the first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president.

“Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come. Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too – because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone.  When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”

I felt HOPE in the air after President Obama became the first black man to be nominated by a major political party for president. The world did feel different to me the day after that historic moment in history.

So I ask you, if you haven’t yet celebrated the fact that Hillary Clinton is the first woman to be nominated by a major political party (which, regardless of your beliefs, is a HUGE FREAKING DEAL) is it because you don’t like her, because she’s a woman, or because you’d genuinely prefer to elect a sociopath?

I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman (to insinuate that to any woman is to completely undermine her intelligence) but I sure as hell am celebrating that she’s a woman and that I have the right to vote for her.

And I urge you to do the same, Celebrate that we can vote for good over evil. Celebrate the fact that 97 years ago, women didn’t even have the right to vote in the U.S. — and now, in 2016, we can vote for a woman to be president.

That’s pretty damn KOTAWesome.

And in the words of Hillary Clinton:

“Whatever party you belong to, or if you belong to no party at all, if you share these beliefs, this is your campaign.

“If you believe that companies should share profits, not pad executive bonuses, join us.  If you believe the minimum wage should be a living wage… and no one working full time should have to raise their children in poverty… join us.

“If you believe that every man, woman, and child in America has the right to affordable health care… join us…

“If you believe we should expand Social Security and protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions… join us.

And yes, if you believe that your working mother, wife, sister, or daughter deserves equal pay… join us.”

In the words of Vice President Biden:

“This is a complicated and uncertain world we live in. The threats are too great, the times are too uncertain to elect Donald Trump as President of the United States. No major party nominee in the history of this nation has ever known less or has been less prepared to deal with our national security. We cannot elect a man who exploits our fears about ISIS and other terrorists…A man who confuses bluster with strength.”

Finally, in the words of the KOTAW Girl Gang’s dear friend Paul Biedermann:

“Don’t be afraid to share your views. I know it goes against everything most of us have ever learned about social media, but sometimes things are more important than offending someone you’d rather not, potentially jeopardizing a friendship or business prospect. Truth, common sense, and goodness need to triumph over the alternative.”

PS: If anyone needs help getting into celebration mode over Hillary Clinton’s historic triumph, if anyone needs help getting inspired to VOTE for her to be President, I encourage you to watch this video and belt out the lyrics!

Oh, and if you don’t like that song either (apparently it ignited “controversy” on Twitter) then perhaps you can listen to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Strip Me” and take her anthem, “I’m only one voice in a million, but you ain’t taking that from me” to heart and SPEAK UP!

Or, in the words of President Obama, “Don’t boo, VOTE!”

Dear friends, I did not write this to get into a political debate, only to speak my truth and hope to inspire others to do the same. So if you have something positive and uplifting to say, please share it in the comments section below to help make the world a better place.

The KOTAW Content Marketing community is all about POSITIVITY and PEACE, so comments that do not meet these guidelines will not be approved.

Peace, love and pittie wiggles,



  1. Tammie says:

    Go Bri… I am so proud of you. And yeah, that idiot has to go. 😊

    • Bri Prooker says:

      Thank you so very much, Tammie, for your support here on the blog and on Facebook. It means the world to me. Here’s to speaking up for good and renouncing all hate!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      So happy to see you here, Tammie. You made Bri smile. And thanks for doing your part to fight for goodness.

  2. Monika says:

    While I understand that this is your blog, deleting posts with truth and facts, will not help anyone. As I stated, I respect you and your opinion, apparently that was not returned. I pray for someday there will be peace on earth. God bless….
    Have a wonderful week “kotawgirlgang”

  3. Elizabeth says:

    As we now know and as Rabbi Blech from Holocaust Studies so eloquently puts it, “His [Hitler’s] ally was the world that chose to remain silent as Germany kept testing the limits of the universal tolerance for its evil actions.” I believe that Donald Trump goes beyond being a hateful, racist, misogynistic jerk – he is dangerous and evil and represents a buildup of hate and intolerance that should not be shrugged off. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and Trump’s candidacy should be a scary reminder of what can go terribly wrong. This is why I applaud the fact that you stood up and said something. This is why it is important not to stay silent about a man who could cause catastrophic, irreversible damage to this country and the world.

    You also made a great point about Hillary – she’s not running for prom queen, she’s running for president. You don’t have to like her for her to get the job done. It’s a standard we only require from our women candidates. I am sick of hearing from media personalities that she “doesn’t smile enough” or “her voice is irritating”…and what about Trump? Sheesh. She is one of the most qualified candidates in the history of elections and maybe that’s not a “popular” thing this election cycle, but having too much experience is much, much better than having no experience, no policies, and no desire to learn about any of it.

    I voted for Bernie in the primary because I wanted to see party politics transformed, and because I, like you, am a progressive. Hillary has embraced much of Bernie’s message and is running a campaign I can get behind even if she wasn’t running against “evil”. Like you Bri, I’M WITH HER and I am so proud that you went out on a limb and took a stand.


    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you SO much for supporting Bri’s courage in speaking up on a volatile subject. I won’t steal her voice by commenting further before she has a chance to reply to you. But couldn’t wait to send you a big hug for embracing the war against silence. xoxoxox

    • Bri Prooker says:

      Dear Elizabeth,

      Hearing from you always makes my heart sing. Thank you for your incredibly intelligent, powerful and thoughtful words.

      I knew writing this would generate anger, but that anger is already out there in the world (and it’s beyond dangerous) so the point of me writing this was to speak out against it and hope to inspire other good people to do the same.

      Thank you SO MUCH for being one of those people! Thank you for speaking out against hate with me, my dear friend, and letting your strong and beautiful voice shine.

      And thank you for quoting Rabbi Blech from Holocaust studies. I will quote him again here because his words ring beyond true for this election — in the most haunting way possible — and that’s why they bear repeating: “His [Hitler’s] ally was the world that chose to remain silent as Germany kept testing the limits of the universal tolerance for its evil actions.”

      Trump’s allies are most definitely the people who choose to remain silent, the people who hear him say hateful things over and over and over again about (I’m pausing to think how to put it — not going to just start listing races) people who aren’t white, people who are disabled, people who aren’t men, etc., etc., etc. And it’s not just one “faux pas” that has been called out and then corrected in the course of this election. You’re absolutely right, as a woman, Hillary Clinton is criticized for her voice, for the fact that she doesn’t smile enough, for how she dresses, for how she looks, for not being “likable” and Donald Trump says hateful thing after hateful thing and has gotten away with it to the point of now being a candidate for president of the United States. That’s not just sexism — that is an unconscionable number of people not standing up against a scary and powerful man — who will only get more scary and more powerful if he steps foot in the Oval Office.

      Celebrities are made to give rounds and rounds of media apologies for the slightest ill-phrased sentiment. Sometimes one slightly off-putting sentence will haunt them for years — yet Trump gets away with spewing so many hateful phrases that hate becomes the only topic of any syllable he utters — and people are still behind him. I wholeheartedly agree with you that “he is dangerous and evil and represents a buildup of hate and intolerance that should not be shrugged off. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and Trump’s candidacy should be a scary reminder of what can go terribly wrong. ”

      The sad thing is that the people who are so scared and hateful and let themselves be bullied into believing Trump’s way is “the only way” because their lives aren’t going so well right now are the exact people who need so desperately to be helped by someone who actually has EXPERIENCE in government and could continue to fix the economy, get more people health care, let people go to college without having to worry about debt, etc., etc. etc. Trump is not the person who is going to fix their lives. Any person who says “HE ALONE” can do something, who responds to the slightest criticism not with intellect, calm ,reason or facts, but resorting to childish name calling, is not someone who is going to fix anything for anybody. He says “HE ALONE” because he’s in this for “HE ALONE”.

      I truly believe when good people come together to speak up against evil the world can be changed for the better. So thank you so much for speaking up for good and even more than that, for taking the time to make me not feel alone after hitting publish on what I knew would be a controversial article.

      Sending so much love to you!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

      • Elizabeth says:

        I love you so much! We must speak up when we feel something needs to be said. As we know, silence is not only dangerous, it can be deadly. Everything you said here is so spot on! You are so brave to put yourself out there by taking a stand, but you are also so right to do it. You are a good person and hopefully you’ll see you have an army of good people right behind you. -xoxoxo

        • Bri Prooker says:

          I love you so much, too, Elizabeth! Your words bring tears to my eyes and warm my heart so much. I’m so lucky to have a friend like you who supports everything I have to say, even when it’s controversial. Although for the life of me I can’t figure out why it’s so controversial — to speak up for good over hate. Of course then I remember the huge hate-filled comment I deleted (my very first comment on this blog) and obviously the person didn’t even read my blog because I made it clear I wouldn’t publish anything hateful. And of course that’s the whole reason I’m speaking up and why it is scary to speak up — when you’re speaking up against so much very real and eerily palpable bigotry and hatred. Kelsey was walking in our neighborhood the other day and saw a neighbor of ours putting up a ten foot Trump banner and when she told me this, I literally cringed.

          Although you don’t need a banner to change the world — no matter how big it is. You need good people to speak up and band together to make the world a better place. You are so right: “silence is not only dangerous, it can be deadly.”

          Awwwww, I love envisioning an army of good people right behind me. You would of course have to be right next to me, seeing as you are an honorary member of the KOTAW Girl Gang. :) xoxoxoxoxoxo

  4. Thank you for sharing, and for your message; I too had an abusive father quite like yours, albeit in fascist Romania (he knew my mom was going to be assassinated and did not let my brother and I see her one last time). I too, maybe because of that experience, could never watch DT on his show because I recognized right away the sociopathy. I was quite crushed when I realized Bernie had no chance. And for a while I stopped being political on my page after losing friends and clients. But the stakes are too high, the danger this man could become for our world too immense. So I’M WITH HER, proudly and all the way!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      This makes my heart sing! I will let Bri reply to the details of your kind comment, but I couldn’t wait to say THANK YOU for your support. And I applaud the strength it took to overcome an abusive childhood. I am so sorry for what you had to endure.

    • Bri Prooker says:

      Thank you, Ruxandra, for your heartfelt and powerful words. I’m so incredibly sorry for what you had to go through. Reading your words makes my heart hurt. I’m so sorry you lived with a sociopathic father like I did and so, so sorry you lost your mom and never got to say goodbye. I send you love and hugs and, like my mom said, I applaud your strength in overcoming such tragedy and evil.

      Thank you for sharing your story with me. If only more people could see Donald Trump’s sociopathy without having to have gone through the evil of living with a sociopath like we did. That’s why it’s important to speak up. You are absolutely right: “the stakes are too high, the danger this man could become for our world too immense.”

      I’m so happy to have connected with you through this article and so grateful to you for speaking up for good. HERE HERE to being “WITH HER, proudly and all the way!”

  5. Paula Jarrett says:

    Wow, just wow!! Reading all that you have written has changed me in many different ways that I can’t even begin to tell you!! I was in an abusive relationship for 6 years, and my family was just waiting to get the call from the police telling them ‘we’re sorry to tell you’. My abuser however was intelligent, and used more mental abuse then physical. The only person I could tell was our family Dr. who was sadly also his ‘friend’. When I tried to tell the Dr. how bad it was, his response was ‘he doesn’t have you physically chained so why don’t you just walk out the door?’. I had no ability to reach out to anyone else as this person watched over me 24/7, and did not work either. I was not allowed to ever close a door in the house, and i wouldn’t for the aftermath would be far worse. He threatened my family and those closest to me, and he did own a gun. I finally managed to get away when he told me he needed money for the rent etc. I told him that I would bring the rent up to date, plus cover an additional month, and in return he was letting me move out. If he tried to stop me then my check book would be closed. Even after I moved out he would stalk me, and vandalized my brother’s home too. Eventually he left me alone, as I eventually figured out that his bark was going to be bigger then his bite, and it was. For him it was all about mind control, mental abuse etc. The fact that I could not turn to anyone that could help me was utterly frustrating though, and disappointed me greatly. You are a true inspiration, incredibly brave, and strong!! You have also managed to inspire me to use my voice and speak up in the future!! Not just personally, but also politically as well. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, and encouraging us in the most positive way possible!! Together I like to believe that good will triumph over evil!!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Paula! Yes, good will triumph over evil if we refuse to let silence prevail.

      I am so happy to hear that you are free from your abuser. Please talk about your experience. It will inspire others and will also help you heal.

      Emotional and psychological abuse remain largely misunderstood even by professionals because the damage is invisible. And we who survive tend to mask our pain as well. Your triumph makes my heart rejoice!



    • Bri Prooker says:

      Thank you so much, Paula, for your incredibly kind comment and also for sharing your story of triumph with me. You have no idea how much it means to me that I’ve inspired you to use your story and your voice to help others and do good. That is exactly the reason I wrote this and exactly the reason my mom and sister and I continue to share our own triumph over domestic abuse. It’s actually two years ago today that our Lifetime movie about our story premiered and it’s reason to celebrate. “Run For Your Life” keeps airing in more and more countries all over the world and my mom continues to help women who have reached out to her after watching the movie find the strength to leave and prosecute their abusers.

      My mom is exactly right: “Good will triumph over evil if we refuse to let silence prevail.”

      And that means we need to speak up about not wanting Donald Trump (who is emotionally abusive, manipulative and a sociopathic pathological liar) to end up in the Oval Office. That means voting for Hillary Clinton and publicly stating why.

      After writing this piece, I’ve received many private notes from people who say they agree with me, that they’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton and think Trump is dangerous, but couldn’t possibly tell me that publicly. And it’s made me really angry. Because when the stakes are so high, when it’s possible for this country to elect an abusive, erratic sociopath to the highest power and we know it’s scary as hell, I think it’s morally reprehensible not to speak up.

      So I applaud you for speaking up and making your voice heard. Thank you for making my heart happy with your words and thank you on behalf of everyone whose life will be changed because of your strong voice.

  6. […] controversy; be it boldly telling our stories of surviving domestic violence or proudly sharing our fierce admiration of Hillary Clinton and vehement disdain of our current commander in chief — well before he had this title and way […]

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