*This content has the potential to be triggering for some. It deals with issues of sexual assault and child molestation.
There will be a day in the distant future when such a strong framework of laws and protections exists for the victims of sexual violence, that our current system will seem archaic and outdated. Our cultural norms regarding these issues will be one that fiercely protects the victim, ensuring that they will be safe and supported should they choose to speak out. This is the cultural change I am witnessing and it heals and frees me.
When our voices, raised in thunderous revolt, echo in the chambers of courtrooms, casting off reverberations, breaking glass and shattering the silence that has surrounded us, we will no longer be shrouded in shame and self doubt. Those things we learned from living in a culture that encouraged secrecy, perhaps the ultimate incident of gaslighting. We were often denied our reality and our own voice.
And you will hear: “I am here. I exist. I will not remain silent, nor will I accept your complacency for the crimes commited by those that would not see me, value me, or believe my story”. We as victims will say: “No more”.
Many of us have had to endure being preyed upon only to be discarded by a system that did not see the value in holding our perpetrator accountable. Often adults surrounding us were so complacent that they shrugged off our concerns, hoping we’d somehow forget that it ever occurred.
This complacency is deeply burrowed, like a parasite, into the fabric of our culture. We still hear daily of the lamentations of men and women who suffer under a perpetrator denying them their visibility and worth, attacking not only their physical safety, but their emotional and spiritual safety as well. Enough is enough. When will it end?
And so, the stories continue to roll in, #metoo, #metoo from both men and women, and the assaults must stop. Period.
Not only should we be believed, but we should be protected and provided immediate options for treatment that are paid for by those who commit crimes against the innocent. Because, these crimes often last a lifetime. The take host in the body of the victim and wreak havoc in a variety of ways from anxiety, panic attacks, depression, etc. Some victims even turn to substance use as a way to numb the affects of sexual assault and molestation. Enough. Enough.
The system must make it clear that an abuse of power will result in power being stripped, and taken away, immediately.
We heal our society, NOT by being silent and sweeping things under the rug; We heal by continually confronting, enforcing consequences, and caring for the wounded. It is that simple.
There should be zero tolerance for those molesting and assaulting powerless victims. We can do better by holding the perpetrator accountable and requiring that victims, especially children, get the treatment needed so that the impact is minimized and the victim can feel supported and safe.
There has been way too much complacency for an issue that potentially can cause a lifetime of suffering. When our voices are heard and our stories told, we will together demand a safer world that protects people from violating acts and holds perpetrators accountable in a swift and forcible manner.
And so, I will continue to share my story, shouting it loudly and fervently.
I was FOUR when I was violated. My next door neighbor, Wally, was sexually molesting my sister and me and had threatened to harm our mother if we told. It so happens, I was the one who opened my mouth offhandedly and exposed the “secret”. Due to this event, I struggled with bedwetting, anxiety, and was diagnosed with ADHD. Later in life, I was diagnoses with Bipolar I and PTSD, and continued struggling in various ways relating to the assault. Our perpetrator never was held accountable and he was allowed to remain living next door, taunting us. The newspaper article pictured above provides evidence of this story.
I also was sexually assaulted again at age 16 by a different neighbor. I sat in the middle of the truck and had to straddled the gear shift. My friends father fondled me during the entire trip. I felt embarrassed and powerless not knowing what to do or say since my girlfriend was sitting right beside me. My parents did not act at the time and I was told by another man in the neighborhood that it was my fault because my “shorts were too short”. My concerns were silenced. These incidents were in the 70’s and late 80’s and during those time you were just supposed to “suffer through” and “tolerate it”.
It is so important to keep these stories alive and to continue to say “No more”!! I’m encouraged by the progress seen and hope that one day we live in a world safe from sexual assault. It is so damaging to so many of us and one way we can heal is through activism.
Keep talking, shouting, and sharing, we will be the change we seek to create a safe world for ourselves and others.