The story I’m about to share with you is intense in emotion, digs into some really dark corners that many keep locked and heavily guarded. I am not opening the door with the spotlight shining in to require pity, request comfort, nor to have anyone claim, “Bless her heart.” I am shining the light into my darkness so that, hopefully, my flashlight can reach someone who feels betrayed, solitary in their suffering, shameful, or guilt-ridden. I end this first paragraph with this:
IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. I BELIEVE YOU.
The month of April is Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence awareness month. For those of us who have survived through these violent crimes, it’s an important month to help educate others about the necessary resources to protect ones physical, mental, and emotional self, commonly without financial ability to pay due to the clandestine fleeing that can be crucial to becoming a survivor and not a victim.
I’m not going to spout statistics, or at least not a lot of them, because those are just numbers. I want to share with you my face.
This is a picture of me at around age six. By the time this picture was taken, I was already quite skilled in how to be the twisted version of the good daughter. I had secrets I couldn’t tell to anyone or my mom and my brother would be killed. I already understood that I was good for one thing. I was so carefully bred to be a victim, I never associated (even up until about six weeks ago) myself with that word or with the fact that things that happened were violent crimes against my person. I just felt like I’d survived, my mom and brother were still alive, life was good.
When I’d reached age 21, I was in full blown PTSD (non-combat trauma). When I read off the symptoms back then I sincerely believed that someone had been following me around writing my every move. It was terrifying to realize that other people had gone through the same thing. It was even more petrifying to realize that it happened to me. Denial is a vicious place to live.
After intensive in-patient treatment, several years of intensive outpatient, and then several MORE years of follow up (as needed) therapy, I feel comfortable and confident in saying that I’m on the other side of PTSD with minimal triggers. It took me 40 years of hard work (30 years actively) to get through the shame, the guilt, the depression, the feelings of being unworthy that were planted from the time I was very young.
The way that I identified myself changing from a total sexual being into a loving human being took devotion, courage, strength, guidance, and determination. It was a life or death battle that left me weary, broken, bloody, and sometimes hanging on by a thread of the Fates. But, as my matriarchs taught me, whether by grace or design, to thrive is the best testament to victory over that which demanded submission.
I ask you this question:
How long does it take before you say enough of a bad relationship? How far will you allow the violence against you to continue before you fight back? How much will have to be stripped of your personal dignity before you look around and say, “I can do better. WE can do better.”
I say, the time is now. Tomorrow may be too late to save one more girl from rape. Tomorrow may be too late to rescue one more child from starvation. Today. This is what we have. Join me, humans, in rescuing ourselves from one of the greatest tragedies and the source of our joint suffering, the lack of equality between genders in the name of LOVE, for the purpose of LOVE, with the intent of LOVE brought into action.
If we do not stand together as the majority population and demand equality, then we fail our sisters, our mothers, our grandmothers, our daughters, our children, our humanity. Men that wish equality are those we should cherish, nurture, encourage to defend, but never to rescue us. You can’t expect those who wish to keep us under their heel in the name of religious or political beliefs to release us from slavery (as the article this was inspired by) stated. That’s like allowing a wolf to watch ones sheep or a (JOKE ALERT) police officer to guard a doughnut.
Maya Angelou kept rising despite the anchors that attempted to drown her. So shall I rise whether anyone follows or everyone shies away from the truths. We must move for unity and equality, but for the right reasons, because it’s the right thing to do.
I am so happy that you were finally able to move beyond the horror that I never knew about. I was devastated when I found out my fears had been realized and I needed counseling to work through the rage I felt toward the perpetrator of such horrible acts on my daughter, my firstborn! I also finally feel like I have moved past the guilt of not knowing and anger of things over which I had no control. I can now have a “regular” relationship with you that we can both enjoy!!