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Shame and Telling

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#1 Jes

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 02:53 PM

I wrote this a long time ago, and noticed the thread it was in is distorted, so I thought it was worth a repost :)

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. 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 received 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. I found sympathy. "What can I do for you?" "Are you okay?" "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 worshipped. 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, so I am quickly and effectively silenced.

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, then 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.

#2 Reese

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 10:48 PM

Wow! Very powerfully written, thank you! Speaking out is something I still struggle w/although when I told my mom the second time she listened and did everything right. Last fall on vacation I had the kenji(sp?japanese letters)for survivor tattooed on my inner wrist. When it was done I loved it but was also kind of scared. The letters seemed so big and black and permanent and noticable. I never planned out what I would say to ppl when they asked me what it meant. At first I lied to most everyone(except my family), but I'm working on just telling ppl the truth when they ask(when appropriate). I have never seen ppl shut up faster than when I tell them it means survivor. NO ONE has asked any more questions once I said the word. Except for my aunt who looked at me and said 'What did you survive?'(she knows about my csa). :rolleyes: It's really been sad for me to see how many ppl really don't want to know.
Take care

#3 kjblue

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 10:18 AM

Wow, I just came across this and I am just taken a back (in a good way). This is so what I want in my life, to just talk about it when I need to, to be able to say the words, share my story, explain my triggers, to know that someone in real life cares enough about me to not just walk away when the conversation gets 'messy'. Thanks for posting this, I printed it out and will go back to it very often in the next few days, just to dissect and digest it more.

Thanks again,

#4 thriver

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 11:00 AM

WOW! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, JES! You brave advocate! I've been thinking about this SO MUCH lately. I was thinking about asking to get something pinned, actually, because I think it's so important. I have something up at my Blogger blog right now, entitled, "SHARE A SECRET, STOP THE SILENCE, SILENCE THE SHAME." This is a major goal of mine. I want to know how interested survivors are in doing this--sharing secrets and silencing shame. Details are at: http://survivorscanthrive.blogspot.com. Again, thanks for your courage and leadership. :goodjob:

#5 itsme

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 04:53 PM


Wow! I recently did speak out, even if only to two of my physicians. One was wonderful, the other...apparantly I caught him a bit off guard. His initial response, I can't repeat here. Although, he did step up to the plate,so to speak. I believe he made my gyne surgery much easier for me. I'm sure he is aware of how he responded and perhaps gave it some thought afterwards. He has been VERY nice and very professional. I'm hoping he didnt tell the rest of his staff, though. I do have my suspicions.


#6 Reenie565

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Posted 03 December 2006 - 06:45 PM


I know this is an older thread, but it touched me soooo much I had to reply!

Your words are soooo powerful! Until now, I have only told the "general outline" of what happened to me to a very few people. I have yet to find the courage to let people in my RL know how I feel about it, or how it has effected me. I talk with my T, and the beautiful people here at Pandy, but that is all.

My shame, My guilt, My pain live inside of me, controlling me, trying to drown me. After reading your words (about 1/2 dozen times to get it into my thick skull) I will make it my goal this week to stop hiding, to say the words out loud, and the hell with how it makes others feel! I will do this for ME!

Thank you oh powerful, wise, wonderful, supportive Jes! :wub:
:daisy: Reenie

#7 Tania

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Posted 03 December 2006 - 11:53 PM

I am glad you reposted it Jes, that is very empowering, it took me 11 years to say anything to anyone after my first experiences of being sexually assaulted. And the feelings of those close to me was not that good, only people i got understanding from was a support group from a self development course i did (where i first blurted it)....

Thanks for posting this, and i agree with every word :)


#8 sdia84

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:17 AM

Thank you again, Jes! I know you posted this awhile ago, but since I am just stumbling across it now, I thank you. Such powerful and moving words! I've said other places on this site that only my boyfriend knows about what happened to me, and yesterday was the first time I said "rape" aloud (on the phone, scheduling an appointment with the counselor). But after reading this several times, I'm honestly considering telling friends when the time is appropriate (by "appropriate" I mean in an intimate, homey setting and not in a bar). Family might take a lot longer, since my family is VERY gossipy and large and would probably bring it up everytime I was in the vicinity or just give me sad eyes everytime I walked into the room.

Thank you, thank you again Jes!

Much love, Stephanie

#9 joanD

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 09:25 PM

Thank you.

#10 Breanne

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 12:24 AM

Wow powerful Thank you you are right. I have been feeling that I want to step out and scream, I am getting closer. This hit my heart, ironic that I found it today of all days. :cry:

Thank you for sharing something so poweful and so personal
Take care, breezy

#11 Kalley

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 11:09 AM

Thank you Jess!

I can only imagine what that day would be like if every victim of sexual assault would scream. I believe you are right, that no place on this earth would be quiet. That it would be heard around the world.

I wish I could scream, I wish I could speak out. I have been quieted for far too long.

Thank you again Jess, it's very powerful to read and feel.


#12 Truestim

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 09:06 AM

Dear Jes,

You are absolutely right on the money with your post. Silence is the enemy of the survivor.

I am a survivor. My wife is a survivor. I am a therapist who specializes in helping survivors. It's hard to speak out. Its difficult to believe that we won't be hurt, or rejected, or that something terrible won't happen if we speak. But, speaking is part of the process of healing for most of us.

The dragon (my wife's name for the inner shame, anger and torment the survivor feels) flourishes in the darkness of silence. To speak is to take some of his power away and return it to yourself. Be deliberate in your choice to speak. Start with a trusted somebody. But when you can...speak!

Edited by Truestim, 17 May 2007 - 09:07 AM.

#13 ChristineMarie

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 11:17 AM

Very well written, thank you, Jes! That was amazing, I imagined it all of us letting out a scream, what an awesome site and moment that would be. It would wake everyone up, amazing vision. Thanks, so much, you are so very right! Lots of supportive, thankful hugs for such a good article.

#14 Sadie

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 03:58 AM

Thanks for that Jes. The mugging example is one I use often myself. Really well written piece.

#15 blondie2002

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 05:23 AM

Wow Jess, that was a great post! I can definately relate! :tear:

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