There’s a very real part of me that is thankful so much discussion and awareness is being brought to sexual assault. Personally, I’ve spent all of my adult life peeling back layers of my experience with sexual assault. Finding the places where healing was still needed, finding the tools that helped me cope. I forgave my perpetrator a long time ago, but forgiveness doesn’t erase trauma. Trauma is a chemical in the brain, not just a thing that happened to you. Limbic memories are sometimes made during the Fight or Flight process, the limbic system is essentially an alarm system.
My limbic system is still working on trust, even while I move forward. My perpetrator didn’t know they were affecting my future relationships— even the platonic ones. They didn’t know they were affecting my future marriage. They didn’t know I would spend thousands of dollars on ways to cope while I learned to heal.
Based on conversations I’m reading on facebook, ‘justice’ has been used in a lot of different contexts lately.
Justice isn’t revenge. Justice isn’t vigilantism, or getting pay back. Justice and forgiveness can walk hand in hand, they are not mutually exclusive. Justice says “No more, we do not allow you to go further.” In fact, in parenting justice is an act of love, it’s enforced boundaries. As a society we have expressed expectations, like “consent,” and justice upholds it. For those who think Kavanaugh is innocent, you believe he needs justice. That innocent people deserve protections from slander. Good news. I don’t have a horse in the current race. I don’t know what happened, I find it all triggering, so I’ve read little about this particular case. However, I’d like to discuss some things with you.
I realize many are waking up to quite a bit of uncertainty in this discussion. More than before, men and boys are afraid of being blamed and their names, and possibly lives, ruined by a single allegation. What’s more? The water is just getting muddier for people like myself, who didn’t report… and watches the world dissect and devour Kavanaugh and Ford on social media… and I feel triggered.
Would you still believe me if I told you who hurt me? Would it matter that I first told you the traumatic toll it took on me as a child, so much that I couldn’t talk about it until my teens and 20s?! Maybe you’d be upset, because my testimony could have protected OTHER people; 20+ years is a long time to withhold the truth about someone’s character. I liken it to a murder case, and the murderer has been free all this time. They could kill again… or they could have reformed themselves. We’re not inclined to believe the latter.
Let me be clear. I know there are those who abuse the words “rape” or “perpetrator.” Honestly, the boundary is clear “consent,” but for many it’s hard to feel so objective. Are you safe? You touched my lower back, maybe harmlessly… or maybe you’re pushing boundaries and trying to groom me- it’s happened before. You and I are alone together, did you stage this, or was it a coincidence? It sounds crazy, and assuming, right? For those who have triggers it’s a survival instinct, not a choice. They got us last time, but they won’t get us again… or so we hope.
‘Cause if it happens to you once, it’s not hard to believe it could happen again.
If you are a safe person, do you realize that innocent actions have been used in traumatic ways before? Can you see how the line of “trust” is more complicated? I realize the trouble this poses for you. Innocent people do not deserve such skepticism. It must feel disgusting to you, that we would even doubt you, especially if you haven’t been exposed to this first hand before. If I could offer any insight, from a survivor to —whoever I’m speaking to, try not to look at it as “don’t touch girls, they will think you’re assaulting them and that could ruin your life.” But imagine this… “You never know what someone else has been through. Even if you mean well, it’s loving to ask first.” For those who are afraid, it’s loving to keep communication open, we want to believe you’re kind and loving. It IS extra work, your gestures of awareness are deeply appreciated. The amount of effort women use daily to avoid sexual assault is awful, maybe we can work together to illuminate safe men… so that those who are dangerous cannot hide anymore.
Not everyone has the same trauma triggers. Some sexual assault survivors are actually hyper sexual, super touchy people (and they can still have triggers.) Some survivors emotionally heal quickly and they cannot relate to the examples I’m giving above. Having trauma triggers is not personal. Shaming someone, or accusing them of lacking forgiveness is unhelpful. Forgiveness is optional— not a requirement. Where someone else is in their healing process is their business, healing isn’t linear… and judgement is just going to validate their trust issues. How much help, spirituality, time, patience, etc, should it take to recover from sexual assault? The answer is 🤷🏻♀️… but maybe ‘together’ is how we heal as a people.
**I just ask that you post in love, if you choose to respond.**