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Former mayor Betsy Hodges says Star Wars saved her life

Former Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges says she wouldn't be here if not for Luke Skywalker and the gang.

Former Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges says she wouldn't be here if not for Luke Skywalker and the gang. Star Tribune, Associated Press

In 2013, Betsy Hodges beat out 34 candidates to become the next mayor of Minneapolis. Over her four-year tenure, she reformed police and firefighter pensions and signed off on an ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15.

She says none of that would have happened if it hadn’t been for Star Wars.

“How Star Wars Saved Me,” her account of how Luke Skywalker’s harrowing journey through a galaxy far, far away kept her alive long enough to become the woman she is today appears on The Mary Sue: a nerd-culture website with a feminist slant. She didn’t respond to interview requests.

When she says Star Wars saved her, she means it literally. She says when she was 8 years old, not long after she started watching her neighbor’s bootlegged copy of A New Hope on a VCR in Minnetonka, she was sexually abused for the first time. And it wouldn’t be the last.

“...Until I was 19 and got sober, I never told a single, solitary person, not a soul -- not a friend, not my parents, not an adult, not a stranger on the bus. No one,” she writes. “I believed -- and was given good reason to believe -- that if I did, everyone and everything I loved in the world would be destroyed.”

Hodges describes Star Wars as “an escape hatch” from reality. While she was being “groomed” for sexual abuse, while she guarded that secret from the world, she would periodically pull a ripcord that would land her on Tatooine, with Luke, Leia, and Han Solo as her intrepid companions.

“It wasn’t enough to stop the abuse, but it was enough to get me through it,” she writes. “They saved my life, literally. I would not be here without them.”

When she recently caught Solo: A Star Wars Story in theaters – at the very first frame of the sandy, wind-whipped Tatooine -- she wept.

“Not for the horrors of my childhood,” she writes, “but with gratitude for what had gotten me through it.”

It’s often impossible to know what the people around us are going through. It’s equally impossible to know what will be the thing -- the seemingly inconsequential thing -- that gives them the strength to survive.