Please be careful. These are my thoughts on Our Collective Shame, why we feel it, and why we must not. The posts to the Telling and Shame thread I started made me think. These thoughts may be triggering. Please be safe.
Rape. Molested. Incest. Abuse. Sexual Assualt.
These have words have such power. From us, they have taken control, safety and power. In replacement, we have been given hurt, anger and shame and we are silenced by it.
They have power over our families, our friends, our peers and co-workers, too. These words have the power to them say things like "Are you sure?" or "Why didn't you do this, that or the other thing?" They make them call us liars. They make people we know and trust physically recoil from us, look away or just blush. It's all hurtful, so hurtful that it silences us.
Why do we feel shame? Before we even tell, we are ashamed. This is a society in which sex crimes are Unspeakable Crimes.
When we tell, our feelings about the rape, molestation or incest are influenced by the way the person we trusted enough to tell reacts to us. To those of you who told and recieved no support, I applaud you. Your search to heal is just heroic, and shows unwavering bravery. To tell takes untold courage. Again, I applaud you in your search to heal despite the shame given you. Rape is not the unspeakable crime; What your friends and families did by silencing you with shame is.
So why DO these people we trust so much look away?
Fear. Thinking that, "Well, rape happens to other people. Not to people I know. If it happened to someone I know, then it can happen to me, and it can't. Therefore, my friend, my daughter, my sister, wasn't raped."
Ignorant. Just fucking ignorant.
Control. Blame is a way to control. We blame our own selves, too don't we? By saying, "Why didn't you, run, scream, fight harder...etc...." our friends, families and peers put the control into our hands. They think..."If she had fought harder she would have gotten away. If she had yelled, someone would have heard her. I Would Have Yelled. I Would Have Gotten Away. I Would Have Been Heard. This Can't Happen To Me." It's a way for non-survivors to think they actually control their own environments. The survivor, she didn't. But This Can't Happen To Me.
When we blame ourselves, we give control back to ourselves. I Should Have Fought Harder. I Should Have Yelled. It's a way to protect our own mistaken belief that We Control Our Own Lives. We don't. Shit just happens. Us survivors, we learned that, in one heartbreaking minute.
We don't want that control, do we? Not when the shame comes with it. But people give that control to us, unasked for. And it makes us really ashamed. And silent.
Discomfort-People are generally uncomfortable with discussions about genitals, and when we tell them that our genitals were so horribly abused, they become uncomfortable.
I was mugged, two years ago. Total control was taken from me, by a man with a gun to my face, and I reached into the back pocket of my jeans and gave him money. He walked away. Was I ashamed? NO. Did people treat me differently? NO. Sympathy, and What can I do for you? Are you Ok? That must have been scary. This is how people reacted.
Rape is the Unspeakable Crime because it involves the control of our genitals. Our genitals to be treasured. They are to be worshiped. We do not speak of them.
Seven weeks ago, penis was put into my vagina without my consent.
The reluctance to speak about a crime involving genitals makes what is essentially a horrible mugging more awful for me. I Am Horrified that this happened and people don't want to hear about it, even though I desperately need to talk about it with those who can help me make sense out of this world. However, People Don't Talk About These Things. I AM SILENCED. Quickly and effectively.
I am silent, because their words hurt, because I am afraid of more abuse, because I am afraid of their pain and their reactions.
For those of you, especially those of you who have been more effectively silenced than I have; I am in Awe of You. To heal must be incredibly difficult.
Too many women are raped, molested, abused and assaulted because of the silence.
Too many women feel this Collective Shame, because of the silence.
I am going to ask people a favor. Don't Be Silenced.
Stepping out can be so frightening, but so much can be gained. Sometimes statistics jump into my head and I can't help but think about what would happen if every victim of sexual assault were to simultaneously scream. People would begin, and those who had hadn't been able to acknowledge what has been done to them, would hear, look around, realize that they were not alone and join in. It would be the scream heard across the world and it would be the scream to change the world. No place would be silent, no person on this earth would not hear that scream and the effects of sexual assault would be frighteningly audible and thus undeniable.
That is an unrealistic vision right now, but it is not unrealistic to break the silence on a smaller scale.
End the silence at your own pace. Any step is a good step, no matter what it is. These steps are acts of bravery.
Stay safe when you take steps.
If just reading this was the biggest step you can take, Good for You. You have something to be proud of.
If you can, write it.
If you can say your word to yourself, say it.
If you can say rape, incest molestation to a friend, try it on for size.
If you can yell it, like I did last night, yell it.
If you can speak out, then do so.
Any step you take, is a step in ending this Collective Shame and Silence, that we all feel. Now that is empowering, to us, the survivors, and to all women.
I want to acknowledge my mother, a woman with her Ph.D. in Womens Studies, for raising an empowered daughter. Also, I'd like to acknowledge my partner, for calling it Rape, when he called the police. I wouldn't have. I want to thank my father, for saying, "This is the first night I slept well since you were raped," at the dinner table. My partner gave me a word for it, and my father made it alright for me to talk about my rape at the dinner table.
These people are the reason I will not be silenced.
Thanks for reading. The courage I have seen on this board gives me courage.
(Edited by mistral at 3:00 pm on Oct. 23, 2001)