April 2017

The glitz and glamour of sexual assault

[I wrote this last winter, shortly after the second debate. I don’t remember why I never published it. I also don’t know why I’m publishing it today. Maybe because I can’t seem to write anything else coherent and this is an easy way out – posting something I already wrote. Maybe because this topic is always worth addressing. I suppose the why doesn’t even matter, anyway.]

I posted this on Facebook, following the debate a few weeks ago:

Just a friendly PSA: women don’t come forward for fame. Women come forward to bravely speak their truth so they can survive and be free.

A friend commented [sarcastically], “Nothing like the glitz and glamour of sexual assault.”

Yup – I know that’s what I always wanted. You too, right?

It is infuriating and terrifying to think that people out there still believe that the only reason a woman would share a story is because she made it up while trying to get in the spotlight.

Absent a serious mental condition, women don’t go around making up stories to ruin someone’s life in the interest of fame.

Newsflash: the reason so many of us don’t tell, or didn’t tell for so many years, is because we didn’t want to be in a spotlight.

It’s not a club that anybody wants to be in. But we find ourselves there – and so we find a way to survive. And that often happens by sharing our stories. Not because, “Ooh! This would be so cool to talk about, and maybe I’ll become rich and famous!”

There was nothing exhilarating or glamorous about anxiously sitting on a couch in front of a friend, trying not to throw up or panic, trying to look her in the eye, drenched in the shame I thought was mine, as I spoke the words and told her my stories. There was nothing fun and exciting about sitting in therapy and working through the years and the memories.

It was freeing. Liberating. Relieving. Terrifying. Worth it.

But not glitzy. Not glamorous.

That’s not how this works.

Sometimes, a survivor does become famous. But when that happens, they’re not famous because of what happened to them, or because of who hurt them. They’re famous because of their bravery in speaking their truth. Because of the hope and courage they give others. Because of the freedom they then feel, and inspire in others.

The problem is, the people who are going to read this are the ones who agree. The ones who have the same thoughts. The ones who don’t get it, who are still so ignorant, those are the ones who will never see these words. But we write, and we talk, on the off chance that someone reads something, and talks to someone who talks to someone who talks to someone who had a different opinion, and through the grapevine, they are educated and enlightened. 

Lessons learned. Again.

You know how when there’s a leak in your house you usually fix it right away, but sometimes you just ignore it? Because it’s really not doing that much damage and it’s probably only leaking because it’s raining and it’s going to stop raining eventually.

Right. Except.

The thing is, you don’t know when it’s going to stop raining. Or when it’s going to start raining again. And how hard. Because despite your best efforts, and the best predictions and forecasts, sometimes storms just come. And sometimes they come out of nowhere, and you haven’t fixed the leak, and it makes an even bigger mess.

And then you have to figure out how to fix the damage from the leak. There’s no point in wasting time wishing you had fixed it earlier. Hindsight is 20-20 and all you can do is deal with what you have in front of you.

So you get mad at yourself, and you complain, and maybe you cry, but then you do the Next Right Thing. You call the repairman, and tell them that even if their schedule is crazy, you need to be fit in. And you don’t, you can’t, feel bad about it, because that’s their job. And you have to fix the damage to your house. No amount of avoidance or wishing is going to make it go away.

And you remind yourself: next time, for the love of all things holy, don’t ignore the leak. No matter how tempting avoidance is, remember that the likelihood of the leak just stopping is slim to none. Patch it. Fix it. Face it. Call the repairman. Well before the damage occurs.

%d bloggers like this: