Are You Listening?
I'm not the only one who knows what it's like to be a small child hiding under the bed and being dragged violently from beneath it. I'm not the only woman who grew up in a family like that or in a church like that. Make no mistake; these violent acts committed in our attics and behind closed doors aren't some trivial matter. The sheer volume of it makes it a modern day, global atrocity. I believe quite strongly that most of society is complicit in this atrocity. Oh, sure, we spout off at the mouth about how these predators deserve to die. We make a big deal that there should be tougher sentences, but does anyone actually do anything about it?
Right now, millions of rape kits are on backlog. Right now, little girls and boys are coming forward, only to be blamed. Depending on the country and family, some little children can face the fate of an honor killing for saying anything. Women are whipped for the "crime of being raped" in some countries. Then, here in the USA...remember Steubenville? How many times have we heard the popular sentiment that if only she hadn't worn that dress, drank that beer, or lived her life, that she wouldn't have been raped? Remember me? I've written my story. I was punished many times for telling the truth, though really, it feels like I was punished for having the audacity to exist at all.
I understand why. No one wants to face such evil, including those of us unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of it. I remember floating above my body when it was happening. I remember going somewhere else when one of the men tried to choke the life from my throat. Oh, yes, I tried to leave. My only option was to go somewhere so far back in my mind that they couldn't get to me. Most people, when they hear these stories, turn away in revulsion. What they don't realize is that by refusing to listen, they enable it to continue.
Abuse thrives in darkness and silence; in fact, that is the lifeblood of abusers. They don't just count on the silence of their victims; they count on the collective refusal to listen to those who would bring their stories out into the light. It is true that apathy is a sin, and that the only thing required for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. So many of us cannot speak, and many never will. I think this is where my compulsion originates; I am not speaking only for myself. I'm speaking for the millions of girls and boys, men and women, who cannot speak. I will not stop until I am dead, and even then, my words will live on.
It happened, it was ugly, and it's real. It wasn't our fault. We are human, and we are still good no matter what was done to us. We are not "damaged goods". We may have wounds and scars, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with us. Rather, it means something wrong was done to us. And so, I speak, write, and shout about something we all need to hear. Because if we don't all talk about it and listen, nothing will ever change.
Are you listening?