Do you want to know a secret? When I first wrote Call Them Out, many friends shared the post and tagged my personal profile, causing it to appear on my Facebook wall.
I removed the tags.
I felt like such a coward asking all of you to name your abusers while I hid what I’d written from my own friends and family. And yet, every time the article appeared on my personal wall, I felt like I was going to be sick. I removed tag after tag while sweat poured down my back. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I didn’t want my family to know what my cousin had done to me, because knowing might hurt them. I worried they would be mad at me.
I lost track of how many times I untagged myself, but after a while I began to leave any new tags that trickled in. Now the article remains on my wall for my friends and family to see.
I let those last tags go partly because I felt like a hypocritical jerk for not owning my shit, but more so because I had the following epiphany:
It is not my responsibility to protect those who may be hurt by what I need to say.
I was the victim. He hurt me, and I have a right to own that. I have a right to be able to tell this truth, my truth, and to make the telling of that truth part of my healing. I have a right to acknowledge that carrying the secret did affect me, did alter the course of who I became. It’s unfair—absurd, really—to expect me, the victim, who has already been violated, to assume the additional burden of protecting those who might be hurt by the truth. It was my body that was invaded and I have a right to say what he did to me, out loud, to whomever I please.
YOU HAVE THIS SAME RIGHT.
But sexual abuse is not something one discusses in polite company, is it? Or even good friend company. Sometimes not even in soulmate company. For many, we feel we have no one, absolutely no one, to talk to.
What I learned from going public about my sexual abuse is that people are aching to talk. Victims are walking around with this… icky dark thing eddying beneath the busy routines of their ordinary lives. It’s like floating in a sturdy—but not altogether infallible—life raft, and knowing there are hungry sharks circling beneath. You know the shadows are there, but you only see them if you are willing to bend over the balloon edge of your raft and look down into the darkness.
Many of us want to look. We’re tired of huddling against the edge of our life rafts with racing hearts, knowing those terrible shadows are down there and not knowing how long we have until the raft springs a leak.
We want to look, and, more importantly, we want others to look with us. We want a friend to point their eyes into that darkness, then look back at us and say, “You’re right. There are sharks down there. They are real, and I see them, and you’re not crazy for fearing them. Those fuckers are scary.” And then we want to paddle back to shore together.
Except… sexual abuse is simply not a topic one discusses.
What if we could change that?
What if we could blow the lid off this subject, so epically, so unapologetically, that we could make it so that we could talk about sexual abuse without having to think to ourselves, “Oh goodness, is that TMI?” or “Oh no, am I going to hurt grandma’s feelings?”
What if we could remove the stigma so absolutely that we create an environment in which sexual predators would have to stop and think, really stop and think before they act on their desires, because we now live in a world where, so sorry, but fuck you, we are NOT going to keep your secrets anymore?
It wouldn’t be enough to stop every predator, but it would be enough to stop some.
Maybe even a lot.
You guys kicked ass with Call Them Out. Now I have another assignment. We’re going to crush the stigma to dust and let it blow away on the wind. We’re going to create a hostile environment for sexual predators. We’re going to make THEM squirm for a change; send them a message that we will not stay quiet.
I know some of you will not be able to do this. You have your reasons, and I respect that.
But for those who can, here is the assignment:
Tell one person in your life. Or two. Or three. Or… put it on your Facebook wall. Whatever you do, just talk about it. Then come back here and tell us you did it. Let’s make this change.
Step 1: #CallThemOut
Step 2: #TalkAboutIt
— — — — —
Thank you for reading. Please SHARE this post! We can’t create a hostile environment for sexual predators unless this post reaches millions of people. It takes ALL OF US. To stay connected, be sure to subscribe to the blog and follow me on Facebook. =)