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“As Mark Wynn’s story tells us, domestic abuse is a deeper root and normalizer of violence than all the wars combined. Ending it is a path to peace.”
- Gloria Steinem
My guest today Mark Wynn is one of most fascinating ppl I’ve met and this is one of the most fascinating conversations I’ve had: Mark Wynn is a survivor of child abuse and lifelong activist against interpersonal violence. Mark Wynn has a gigantic heart and his humanity and humility and sensitivity shine through the instant you start talking to him.
Mark Wynn is the subject of a new documentary film called This is Where I Learned Not to Sleep made by the award-winning filmmakers Anne de Mare and Kristen Kelly.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
I am a survivor of child abuse.
So who is Mark Wynn? Well, he's a former police officer in Nashville who – after listening carefully to the women of Nashville – started the largest domestic violence unit in the country.
As a child, Mark and his mother and siblings endured horrific violent abuse at the hands of his step-father. On one occasion, his mother struck back at her abusive husband, which gave Mark and his family just enough time to flee and cross state lines to safety.
In the new documentary This Is Where I Learned Not to Sleep, Mark bravely returns to the house in Texas that he and his family fled from to escape his abusive step-father.
In our conversation, Mark Wynn says some of the most profound things I have ever heard about trauma and why he believes men should try to return to the scene of their trauma. And how it can be painful and challenging but ultimately “restorative.”
Early in our convo, Mark says, “Nobody has ever asked me that before!” As you all know, I always bring my Mr. Rogers for Adults vibe to these conversations and this conversation required all of me. In a good way.
One weird revelation after interviewing Mark Wynn: my background in the Marine Corps is really becoming an asset in terms of my ability to talk to all manner of people. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my time in the Marine Corps infantry would turn out to be a kind of DIY J-school.
Mark Wynn believes that men have poisoned the wellspring of our shared humanity with violence: and he believes men need to fix this poisonous violence problem by holding themselves accountable for their actions. And telling the truth about the abuse they suffered as a child.
Mark's late wife, Valerie – who we meet in the documentary – founded the Mary Parrish Center for victims of domestic abuse 20 years ago in Nashville. To honor Mark's mother's mother, whose name was Mary Parrish. Today, the Mary Parrish Center has helped over 10, 000 survivors of domestic violence. With long term residence and care and safety in an effort to promote healing, autonomy, and hope.
Here is the trailer for the new doc film This Is Where I Learned Not To Sleep
Thank you toand Laci Durham of Page One Media for their help.
Thank you to Mark Wynn for taking the time to talk to me. And for his tireless truth-telling journey. And relentless advocacy for the well-being of children and women.
Mark Wynn’s example for how a person can be in the world makes me feel hopeful.
I have some questions for you. Meet me in the comments.
Are you or anyone you know a survivor child abuse? (yes/no works, elaboration is most welcome, and I will read closely and with care anything you write.)
I have this weird thing where whenever I interact with someone I feel like I can often see the child that they were. Do you ever have that experience, where you get a sense of the child someone once was?
I have this belief that our numbered age is a pyramid scheme for Big Numbers. I honestly believe there are only 2 possible ages a person can be: Alive or Dead. And if your age is Alive, then you should be able to relate to any other person whose age is Alive.
Many years ago, whenever my step-sister had a baby, I was the only “man” in the family who would hold my step-sister’s baby and sit down and pat her baby’s back. Everybody made a big deal out of me doing this like it was weird. But really I think everybody should’ve made a big deal out of how weird it was that these other “men” were afraid to hold a baby. If you are one of the stronger ppl in the room, why wouldn’t you spend some time making sure the most vulnerable person in the room was doing OK? Why wouldn’t you want to hold a baby? Me and those babies were the same age: we were Alive.
As an undergraduate at UT-Austin, I worked at a Mother’s Day Out at a Methodist church next door to my apartment. This was in Hyde Park. Several days a week, I would go next door to that church and me and my co-workers (all women) would take care of these babies. Me and these women would stand around and hold babies on our shoulders and we’d be talking to each other and laughing and catching up. Easily one of the best jobs I ever had. What’s amazing is now all those babies have grown up. I sure hope they’re doing OK. I have no idea who or where they are. But if I could, I would tell them: once upon a time, you were some damn fine babies.
Hi, my name is Gabe Hudson, and this is Kurt Vonnegut Radio. If you dig the podcast and newsletter, pls consider becoming a paid subscriber.
view the doc This is Where I learned Not To Sleep
visit the website for doc This is Where I Learned Not To Sleep
Learn more abt The Mary Parrish Center (founded in honor of Mark’s mother)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
Learn more about Mark Wynn
For media related to film, contact Page One Media
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