Wednesday, July 28, 2010
A Serious Subject
I apologize in advance if this post is confusing or doesn't flow or jumps around. This is free form blogging- I just don't know where it's going to take me but I know some of what I need to get out and I hope you'll bear with me. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It went on for a long time and a lot of bad things were done to me. It stopped when we moved out of state. I didn't tell anyone for another 7 years. When I did, I was believed immediately, never doubted. My parents supported me and loved me through a lot of very difficult and traumatic stuff. I work hard to learn about how to talk to my kids about protecting themselves. About fighting back. About telling. And about avoiding situations. It's incredibly sad and frustrating that it feels so impossible to cover all the bases, every topic, every angle. I learned an important lesson recently. It seems like so much recovery from abuse and messages about having been abused are focused on a warm and fuzzy kind of healing. The focus seems to be on not blaming the victim, not blaming yourself, avoiding guilt. But something became clear to me the other day... What if we change the focus to how we empower the people who have been impacted by abuse? "It wasn't your fault, you are blameless, you are loved..." What if there was a big emphasis on "What will you do next time? What have you learned and how can you change it?" I was talking with someone who expressed how much fear they still have and that it stems from what happened to them. Whenever I am in a situation where I am called upon to give advice or support, I pray first, I open myself up to be guided and say what needs to be heard in as true a way as I can. It suddenly struck me... The abusers are more afraid of the survivors than the other way around. And what if, instead of calming the fears, we face them head on? Instead of living in fear of the unknown, we try to define the unknown and plan what we can do about it? I have to admit- I've never thought about it for myself. I've never thought about what I would do if my abuser showed up at my house or I ran into him somewhere or he somehow contacted me. But if I was afraid... having a plan in place to know what my options are before the situation happens feels powerful. I still worry that I won't be able to protect my children. I feel confident that I am doing everything that I can to be as prepared as possible, to prepare them as much as possible, and to create an environment that encourages discussion and openness. Maybe my fears need to be faced head on. What would I do if... But I can't go there. I can't. It's beyond fear. It taps into something primal to think about someone else hurting my children and how I would have to try and pick up those pieces and put my child back together again. And that makes me realize how much respect and love and intensity and honor and connection I feel to mothers who have to live that role- including my own mother. Especially my own mother. For anyone looking for guidance on protecting yourself and protecting children, I highly recommend reading Gavin De Becker's books- Protecting the Gift and The Gift of Fear.