New TNA Article – Keep Your Suffering to Yourself: Shaming Victims into Silence

* 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:

Keep Your Suffering to Yourself: Shaming Victims into Silence

6 responses to “New TNA Article – Keep Your Suffering to Yourself: Shaming Victims into Silence

  1. I am so very proud of You!!!!

  2. “Edit: I just realized I forgot to give this post a title. Oops!”Yep. Done that a few times. :oops:Reading this caused tears. And now, the article. Thank you for braving the anxiety to publish this, Edee.

  3. Edee, I felt and feel such anger towards Barbara Walters for the way she treated Mimi Alford. To me it felt like an attack and I thought that Ms. Alford carried herself very well. I wanted to literally get in Barbara’s face and yell,”How dare you!” Alford took personal responsibility for things she did and I applaud her for that. However, Walters should be ashamed that she treated a victim as if she did something wrong.

  4. Heather Whitley Gibson

    *Trigger Warning*When I saw this in my e-mail box…I instantly got defensive…then I saw ben’s name. I understand!!! I confronted one of my molesters at 19 yrs old and lost half of my family. My sister and I still don’t speak. How could he….do that? I was saying… why?!! do I even want to deal with this!! and why am I the “bad” one???, when he did the unspeakable. I was also kidnapped at 9 and gang raped. Everything you can imagine– at knife point.and to seal my mouth, they killed a baby deer in front of me. I still have a scar on the inside of my thigh when I doubt my survival.It took years. After 8 solid years of therapy, I did EMDR and the flashbacks stopped.Rape or incest is so horrible that it cannot be explained. It was like one of the worst,unreal, discusting violent nightmare and it re-occurs everyday.35 years have pasted and that one day…. effects everything.still….my trust was taken….death stared at me with evil…evil! I have met many women, heard stories most people could not face. I am as strong as I am weak. The ability to forgive, I have a relationship with my abuser, which was difficult beyond words and my choice. BUT I DID SPEAK OUT for me! and then for everyone else who has suffered. I did not do the damage. They did.I took my life back because I told the truth. I can now give hope to those who have just fallen into the abyss of blackness.You can get better.You can forgive. You will be stronger than you ever thought you could be but it takes time and work. But to anyone who needs to speak out. You deserve your own respect.Your own love of yourself.You did not do this. Love yourself. We deserve to feel good,healthy,strong and happy. Life is not an endless rainbow but it is a beautiful thing!

  5. Wow, Heather! You are a very brave soul ~ Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story!

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