What is the unspoken topic? There are many tragedies survivors are encouraged to get together afterwards and talk it out about so that it takes the harmful power, away from the event. People in the event and outside of it are encouraged to mingle and share feelings, vent, in hopes of feeling purged of the negative harmful thoughts, to be able to walk away strengthened by the support of their community and each other. It does work. It does help. It may not bring back the dead or take away the injuries but it does help to heal the wounds.
But what happens for the victims of the most personal and violent attack of all? Those that have lost the most significant faith in people through force used against them? They face quite a different outcome. Sadly, they are not treated with the same dignity. They have survived the worst, that man can inflict, yet they are usually told to leave it in the past, “it’s best to forget about it,” or worse yet, “How did you present yourself so that this could happen.” Yes, I am talking about the crime of rape or inter-family sexually assault. Why can’t we as a society come together as with any other horrific crime, to the aid of a survivor of a tragic event, and talk them through it? Just because this crime usually happens behind closed doors does not mean that it didn’t happen. Just because it takes place earlier, and others find out after the fact doesn’t make it any less painful for the survivor. Just because the survivor stops talking about the event after they are told it’s best to put it in the past, they still have it going around in their minds. Only now it’s worse. It’s been stifled. Now they feel as if they have said something wrong again. It’s a very deeply sad feeling, one of which I have a personal experience with. There is nowhere to go with the feelings as the person who told you to let it go, is now on with other conversation. The survivor is working very hard to follow along at this point.
These violent crimes make no sense, and the lack of support are just like salt in the wound. Making it all that much harder for the survivor to work through the normal healing process that needs to happen. The questions of why, will go around and around. Many times the survivor of childhood sexual abuse will not even know that the sexual abuse is a form of sex at all? Often not understanding what the sexual act itself is, till they grow up to have children of their own. For me, it was a chore that was so much worse than washing the dishes. When I had my first child, that is when I realized that it was not only a chore but……! It was devastating. I had no one at the time to talk with about it. I found my self in crisis and alone with it all. Not a good place to climb out of.
The hope is, in writing this, to create more public dialogue to help others that are in the same boat. For it is not anything that they did wrong and they should not feel left alone with it. They should feel embraced by others. Just as we embrace those who lived through 911, Veterans of Wars, Cancers, etc… It’s part of the human condition to console each other and when that doesn’t happen the person not consoled is left to feel they are less than. Next time you feel compelled to change a subject, think twice, it could be the most endearing thing you could do for your human friend.