* Trigger Warning *
This is my latest piece to appear on The New Agenda. It is heartfelt and insanely personal. It may also be difficult to read, especially for family members or those close to me. I should also add a trigger warning for anyone who reads it who may have been abused.
In any abusive situation, the blame should always rest squarely on the perpetrator. Yet, when someone comes forward, the question “How could you?” is nearly always directed at the victim or survivor. This is actually very triggering for me: anger wells up inside of me so fast and hard I imagine if I let it out all at once it would scare the bejeezus out of Captain Howdy. I’ve read articles written by celebrities talking about their own issues of abuse and how they’re doing just fine, they survived, you can too. That’s incredible to me. They fall into the “use-your-celebrity-for-good” category. But what I never see are articles written by non-celebrities who were severely abused talking about how they feel or felt about it. Nobody talks about how scary it is to come forward – that’s one of the biggest hurdles we all face. I never read how it makes someone feel to hear people who haven’t “been there” talk so crassly about someone else who finally made that leap.
One of my greatest frustrations in life has been my inability to speak with authority about why it is so wrong to condemn those who come forward. It has been next to impossible to tell someone to stop making jokes because it is insensitive without explaining how I understand this or why I feel so passionately. Mimi Alford’s story changed everything. When I saw the cruelty toward her in the media I made comments here and there but, for the most part, I bit my tongue. Then the Barbara Walters interview happened. I became a little more vocal, but it seemed people still weren’t grasping what I was saying. Then the hate-spewing seemed to reach a fevered pitch as democrat-haters and lovers of all things JFK/Camelot alike came to Barbara Walters’s defense, further condemning Mimi Alford. I knew I had to say something, but I also knew I had to “qualify” myself, having spent a lifetime hearing, “Yeah, how would you even know?”
I decided to share my story with the hope that people would have some compassion toward victims/survivors of sexual violence. My greatest hope is that someone else who has been there, who sits with blood boiling as she reads vitriolic comments about survivors, yet knows in her soul she can’t speak out, that she might read my article and know she isn’t alone. I want survivors to know that although the road isn’t easy, they will be okay, and they are entitled to their feelings. People need to know that even though they read about survivors for whom life is all fine and dandy now (which is wonderful!), it’s okay – normal, actually – if your life isn’t suddenly filled with rainbows and unicorns and glitter simply for having spoken the truth out loud. Writing this wasn’t easy, and it caused me an ungodly amount of anxiety. But I’m glad I did it. The amount of support I have received has been heartfelt and tremendous, and I feel honored by it. Please feel free to forward this and the article at The New Agenda as you see fit.
Here’s the link: