The “On This Day” feature on Facebook tells you what you were posting on a given day in previous years. Today (April 6), I was reminded that last year someone I didn’t know (met through an online conversation) took offense at my speaking out about rape & sexual assault likened me to a Nazi, and said that the men who raped me should have killed me. I wish I could say that this was the only time this kind of thing has happened, but it’s not. I get far fewer actual threats than some folks I know, but I do often come up against a question that just baffles me … why do I bother sharing my story and speaking up?
Some of the people who ask are genuinely concerned for my safety, and my mental and physical health. Most of them, however, would just like me to be quiet, to keep things to myself, to not disturb their view of the universe. They’re afraid of what survivors face each day. They’re afraid that people they know, their friends and family, have been the victims of such horrible crimes. And they particularly afraid to admit that someone they know might well have been a perpetrator. They cloak their fears in kindness, asking if it wouldn’t be better for me if I just “put it all behind you” or “move on”.
They have a point, I suppose. It is hard work, all this speaking out and advocating. As many of those closest to me will attest, it requires a lot of crying, and praying, and worrying, a fair amount of chocolate (and coffee and wine), and sometimes hiding under a blanket until I can face it all again.
But, at least for me, what is worse is the silence, bearing the story inside of me, alone. At least spoken my story can be shared, carried together with those who love and care for me. And perhaps spoken my story can change something – one person’s view of the world, one congregation’s ability to understand and support other survivors, one community’s efforts to end rape & sexual violence.
I leave you today with these words and images below from the amazing Audre Lorde (and if you don’t know who Audre is, please go forth immediately and learn about her here … Audre Lorde – Poetry Foundation … go now, seriously, she’s epic!).