Warrior: a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.
Wound: a mental or emotional hurt or blow.
Hurt: to suffer pain or grief; to inflict pain.
Peaceful: devoid of violence or force.
There has been one breaking headline after another regarding survivors coming forward years and decades after sexual assaults, abuses and rapes. Many of the accused are well known and loved by the public, Bill Crosby, Matt Lauer. I have intentionally remained on the sidelines. Through much of the social media postings of #metoo there was an energy of hostility, and negativity. There were the #peacefulwarriors who found strength and were able to step up, finally giving voice to their silent suffering. However, I was not ready to sift through the negativity, nor did I feel up to explaining the neurological impact of trauma to those who misunderstood.
With every headline, I have to chose whether to engage or to stay on the sidelines because engaging takes so much emotional, mental and physical strength from me. Most times, I chose to protect myself and not engage. I am still learning how to be a powerful voice while protecting my limited energy. A #peacefulwarrior.
When we are wounded and have yet to find a safe place to #healforward, our words and actions are laced with pain and our natural inclination is to inflict pain to others. A dear friend recently shared a different story of personal pain and used this statement; "Hurting people hurt others.". This truly resonates with me as I have been the hurting soul inflicting pain on others and I have been the recipient of inflicted pain... Truth be told, we all have at some point or another.
I am writing this post to enlighten and equip survivors and society in general. When we don't understand "something or someone" we tend to look for reasons to discredit them. Society as a whole, is still not psychologically prepared to accept how prevalent sexual harassment and assaults are. Therefore, they look for reasons to disbelieve. This article, She Didn't Fight Back... by SHAILA DEWAN was posted in the New York Times. I highly recommend reading it to anyone wanting to better understand the dynamic impact assaults have on survivors. Let's care enough to be educated on the facts, instead of standing on the sidelines looking for reasons to disbelieve and/or shame the survivor. We can chose to not join the media and political slandering. We can stand against blaming and shaming survivors.
www.domesticshelters.org provided an article in 2015 on victim shaming. A quote from the article, "...victim shaming makes it harder for the next victim to come forward. The first step in stopping the shame? Raising the bar for what’s acceptable, says Bayston. Sexist jokes, demeaning women in the locker room, reinforcing the stereotype that men should be macho and dominant—all of these things set up a harmful rhetoric." I have grown ever more cautious and alert to when I hear sexist jokes and demeaning talk about anyone, not just women. You can read it in its entirety here. We can choose to talk about and treat each other as equal humans. In making this choice, we can begin to replace the social standard. We have done this on the once taboo topic of cancer. Now let's do it regarding sexual assault, harassment and rape.
When we receive a medical test result which states we have a 92-95% chance of having cancer, we believe the results worth looking into and taking action. Yet there is a 5-7 % chance we don't have cancer. Statistically only 5-7% of sexual assault reports are false. This means 92-95% ARE true. We should treat them like cancer... take action.
As a survivor who was initially silent from around 11 until I was 17, and then when I did speak up, to not have any legal charges be pressed against my abusers... I understand why survivors wait so long to speak up. I have lived with the neurological ramifications... The fear of being assaulted again and the faulty thinking, if I dress a certain way and avoid certain situations I would be safer. Where did I get that bullshit idea anyway!? UGH! It has taken me decades to find my voice again and to begin processing so I can #healforward.
When the next story comes out, take a breath and purpose to be informed. Give the survivor credibility versus condemnation... It is high time for this topic to be the ongoing national headline. The more we discuss and dive into the facts, the more likely we are to remove the negative stigma of shame from the survivor and put rightful blame on the perpetrator, no matter how high profile he/she may be. We can choose to be #peacefulwarriors and to be the change.
Namaste, the light in me, sees and honors the light in you; this is respect.