I want to thank slhouchin for this post written September 20, 2013. Again, this is one of those post that stopped me in my tracks. How very real this is and society is to blame.
We must work together to silence those that tell a survivor that he or she should be ashamed.
Rape is Rape just as murder is murder. We must teach ‘SHAME’ for participation in any kind violence, even if it’s just posting immoral pictures online. We must also teach ‘SHAME’ for apathy and inaction.
Please don’t just read this post here, please go visit the site PeaceLoveandWords. Follow if you will or read up and see what else she has to offer us readers.
If began telling you a story about how I was mugged, robbed, had my identity or car stolen, I would not worry about you judging me. The weight of blame would sit on the shoulders of the criminals. If I told you how my friend’s elderly relative was murdered after she answered the door to a salesman, you would not tell me how she was to blame for opening the door. I would wait for the sympathy, for condolences and offers of “whatever” I needed.
But if I were to tell you how I am a survivor of sexual assault, I would be fearful. If I explained how the scars on my ankle and knees are from where he drove in the knife so that I knew my life was in question or to remind me that my family would have to search for my half naked body, would you look at me the same way again? If I tell you that a certain spring breeze, a certain ray of light and the smell of Jim Beam makes me shake these 28 years later and that I can become a frightened 15 year old again, would it change how you think of me? I am conditioned to tell my story with an apology, with shame, with accountability for my part in his violence.
I am not ashamed for surviving. I am not ashamed for calming down, letting him finish, and smiling as he got into his car. My sounds changed from pleas as my virginity was painfully being ripped from me to the last words I said to him “We’re cool”. I do have real shame in my life for pain that I have caused other people. I have shame for my mean girl phase in high school. I am ashamed for the times in my life where I held my tongue instead of speaking the truth. I am ashamed that I do not speak this truth louder. I am ashamed of our rape culture: the jokes, political misdirection, use of the word victim, and the silence. All of us hiding behind our screen names are to blame, who feel the need to protect ourselves by anonymity. This has included me.
Recently, there was a headline about the arrests made in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17 year old Canadian who took her own life after a brutal rape and social media bullying. At 15, I felt the guilt too, I thought of taking my own life. I cannot image how difficult it is on today’s survivor with 24 hour streaming anonymous hate.
It is time to teach that the word victim refers to the dead and dying. Teach that there are not degrees of rape, not acquaintance, martial, stranger, date. Rape is Rape just as murder is murder. I have never seen the headline “Date Murder on the rise”. Let’s teach our sons how to not be rapists, let’s teach our men how to hold each other accountable. Let’s teach shame for participation in and posting violence. Teach shame for apathy and inaction.
I have had reasons to not speak too loudly. My children, my career, or my second future career as a writer, the labels that I didn’t want prefaced by “rape victim” seemed valid for a very long time. Now, survivors dying by their own hand make my silence so utterly selfish.
Maybe my voice today will silence one coward from throwing out judgement through the veil of social media. Maybe my voice today can silence the voices telling a survivor she should be ashamed.
To read more on the Rehtaeh Parsons case go here.