Long ago, when my husband was still my boyfriend, he shushed me.
We were dining at a restaurant and I was excitedly telling him a story when he thought I was reaching an unacceptable noise level. His eyes darted towards the tables occupied by less excitable diners and he shushed me.
You know we are married. Therefore, you have already figured out that Paul survived his trip into the danger zone.
I refrained from cutting him with my steak knife and he lived on to shush – albeit more carefully – another day.
I have recently been shushed.
Not because I am easily the loudest and longest laugher in the movie theater. I haven’t been asked to quiet down because of my off-color comments or ability to forget where I am when I let a curse word slip.
I have been once again asked to stop talking about the sexual abuse I experienced.
I have had friends and loved ones told that their stories are too uncomfortable and too harmful to their abusers. They have been told that although their symptoms of trauma have followed them into adulthood, it is no longer worth addressing because it happened so long ago.
I know that the invisible comments at the end of many of my blog posts, statements and advocacy are always the quiet whispers of those wishing I would just shut up about it.
Just get over it already.
Are you still talking about that?
When are you going to move on?
I don’t spend a lot of time wondering if sharing my personal story is making a difference for other survivors of sexual abuse. I do what I think is right and then I hit repeat.
That’s not to say that sharing my story does not benefit me because it does. It is therapeutic to let down my guard and share openly what I am going through. I have found a happy solidarity with many women I would have never met had I never written a word.
I write to you about my experiences because healing from trauma is not equal to slapping a band-aid over a blister.
It’s probably more comparable to using the jaws of life to pull yourself from a burning car only to be placed in intensive care followed by a lifetime of physical therapy. Except unlike obvious physically disabling injuries, you often get the benefit of family members, friends and strangers reminding you that you are making mountains out of mole hills.
Have you heard the news?
The stories have been like sucker punches lately.
The headlines feature young women dying by gang rape in India, adolescents recording a video of their sexual assault to the soundtrack of laughter and our own politicians withdrawing their support of the Violence Against Women Act because the bill extended equal protection to Native Americans, gays, lesbians, illegal immigrants and transgender victims of abuse.
Heaven forbid we provide any services equally to the aforementioned group of society’s unmentionables.
Why would we ever want to say that rape is never okay when we can say it’s fine as long as it happens to those we don’t care about anyway?
The world does not need to silence yet another victim.
We need to recognize that no one is more uniquely qualified to discuss matters of abuse, than an individual who has survived and is brave enough to speak out.
Silence is the burden of the victim. Sharing is the freedom of the survivor.
Sincerely and incredibly loud,