I recently joined a conversation on Facebook about a brave woman who published her story of a violent attack on her, after many years.
She talked about the humiliating process of being examined and interrogated and the scrutiny she faced during the subsequent court proceedings. Though she wanted to forget the attack and hide from life for a while, she sought justice, and not for herself but so it would not happen again.
After such a harrowing experience, she should have received comfort and support but instead faced doubt, accusations and indifference. The trauma has left it’s scars and we, Facebook friends and associates, were trying to counter some of the damage.
It made me think about how often this is the same experience for so many people who continue to be brave, long after they need to. Our very nature seems to call for suspicion of anyone causing ripples in society, even if they are a victim of that society.
I recall my own stories, told with sincerity and sadness, that were met with questions about my memory of those experiences and the certainty that I was surely exaggerating. “Isn’t it time to get over it?” is really one of my favourite responses (not).
It leaves you with a feeling that you are the one with the problem and that somehow you are making more of a situation. You are labelled ‘a mess’ and the people you think you can count on, just fade away.
The isolation compounds the problem and it becomes almost impossible to claw your way back with no support structure.
So, I write this for all of you who are struggling, not because you are weird or less in some way, but because you were handed a deck of cards you are now ‘dealing’ with. Please know you are not alone, many more are battling and quietly being brave, and would hold your hand if they could.
This is for all the girls and all the boys trying and testing things out so they understand more about life.
For the women who have experienced violence, loss, indifference or neglect but are determined to provide a better life for their children.
For the fathers who lose, but get back up again and keep trying to win for their families.
This is for everyone who looks like a mess from the outside, because they are trying to be extraordinary on the inside.
My hope is that if we all speak for the victims out loud, rather than about victims behind closed doors, it will help them get through the healing process and out the other side with less scars. They will be able to claim their power once again.
P.S. If you would like to read the original story that inspired this one, you can find it here.