IN our last article, we discussed the process of reflecting on how you have been coping and healing and what you need to work on to make the new year a more healing centered one for you. We spoke about reflecting on where you were in 2019 and what you wanted/needed to alter to start 2020 on a different note. We discussed making 2020 a year you either decided to start your healing journey or worked on continuing your healing journey. There is no pressure to see change in 2020, but having a goal helps us keep focused, it helps us remember what we are working towards. I know that reflecting on where you are can be scary, difficult, angering and saddening but it can also be truly empowering, freeing and calming. I know how difficult it can be to begin or continue your healing journey. Trauma causes us to box things off so we can get through the days and nights. Trauma forces us to find coping mechanisms to deal with how we have been changed by our trauma. I know how difficult it can be to reflect and map out certain changes.
I am currently reminded of what it feels like to reflect on how far I have come, on the ways in which I am coping in unhealthy ways, the ways in which I self-sabotage, the ways in which I have neglected to set healthy boundaries, on the ways in which I am struggling. I am currently trying to accept what has come from the reflection. My next step will be working on creating my plan to begin to alter the things that need to be altered. I am working on accepting that my healing journey is going to have good days and bad days ( I think no matter how far you come on your journey, that you constantly need to remind yourself that there are good days and bad days and that the bad days aren’t an indication of a lack of progress). I am working on acknowledging the good and bad ways in which I cope but also understanding that both my healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms have helped me survive. I understand that through all of it I have to be gentle with myself. As survivors of Sexual Violence, we can all be so unkind to our bodies and minds. So, throughout this journey I am working on being gentle with my body and my mind, listening to when it thinks I should continue to push and acknowledging when it says I’ve had enough, I need a break. I ask that you work on doing the same, listen to what your body and mind are telling you. A big part of the healing journey is relearning yourself, listening to yourself, learning to trust yourself again and finding your voice. As we continue on in this week’s article, I’d like to gently remind you that there may be parts of the article that may cause you to have flashbacks. You may feel triggered or have forgotten that buried memories re-surface. Should you feel anxious, or afraid please stop reading the article and reach out to someone you trust. Should your heart rate and breathing increase, or should you feel light-headed please stop reading and take a few deep breaths. There is no need to push yourself to get through the article if your body and mind are saying they are not ready. The articles are always available, when you are ready you can always pick it up again. Remember you are working on putting what you need first, not what anyone else thinks you need, but what you have decided is best for you.
This week, I thought we could discuss ME TOO and what that means to you. You may have heard of the ME TOO movement as it has grown in popularity over the years. The movement was started 14 years ago to support survivors of sexual violence, particularly geared towards helping colored women and girls from lower wealth communities to find healing pathways. (https://metoomvmt.org/about/#history). The ME TOO movement started with the aim of supporting and helping survivors of sexual violence. It gave them the chance to have a voice, to acknowledge that they are survivors of sexual violence. It gave them a chance to realize that they are not alone in living through this trauma. The ME TOO movement spoke to victims and survivors of sexual violence, letting them know they were not alone and that sexual violence wasn’t something they needed to be ashamed of. It invariably created a massive support group because sexual violence began to stop feeling like “no one would believe me or understand my pain too” . There are so many other women/girls out there who understand what I have and am going through. There are many suffering along with me but also walking the path to healing with me. ME TOO sought to bring to the forefront the very real issue of sexual violence, which brought together the great numbers of women/girls who were victims/survivors/thrivers. Where is our acknowledgement of ME TOO? Do we not think that sexual violence is serious enough of an issue to warrant more structured specific attention? Do you think that every survivor sharing their story is a liar, someone looking for attention or revenge? Or do we prefer to delude ourselves into believing that any survivor sharing their story either wanted to be sexually assaulted or caused their sexual assault and therefore should be ignored, shamed and blamed?
In Saint Lucia, we ignore the issue of sexual violence, we pretend that it doesn’t happen and when it does that it clearly isn’ enough to warrant actual concern. We treat survivors of sexual violence like pariahs. We want to make sure that they feel terrible about being a victim of crime, we want them to walk away knowing that we don’t believe them, aren’t going to support them and that they are being malicious when they decide to speak about the crimes committed against them. Why do we find it so hard to believe, and empathize with those who share their stories? Why are we so quick to try to discredit the story of the survivor yet so willing to accept that his/her story of survival is one that was concocted to sully the reputation of a young man? Why do we still want to believe or pretend that sexual violence is a woman’s issue that has become relevant because we have become too sensitive? ME TOO’s vision was to continue to advocate for better healing avenues, for better policy, for better resources for survivors of sexual violence, all while working with survivors to accomplish the same goal. Surviving a trauma makes you feel isolated, it may leave you wishing that you hadn’t survived, It leaves you wondering whether you can trust those around you, whether you can trust your judgement. You play the blame game because you want to believe that you could have done something to stop the assault from happening. Society reinforces those feelings leaving you wishing you had remained silent. But I deserve to share my story so does every other survivor. It is my story of pain, fear, anger, disappointment, sadness and loss that will be different to everyone else’s. I should get to share what I want to on the matter without being told I am out for revenge or out to damage a reputation or destroy a life. When we say these words to survivors we tell them that their life wasn’t important enough to consider being destroyed by an individual who ignored personal boundaries, ignored body language, ignored the NO that was spoken. What we say is that you mean less, your pain means less than your rapist. And furthermore, you made him rape you so what do you expect. I am not saying that you have to share your story publicly, I am saying that you need to share your story with yourself. You need to say your ME TOO for you, so you know you did nothing wrong, so you know that you survived this trauma and have been fighting to continue on everyday. Should you want to say ME TOO, or share your story reach out to us via the information below.
As I end I would like remind you that you have survived a traumatic experience but that experience doesn’t define you. I want you to remember that you are strong, brave, intelligent, resilient and worthy of being loved. I want you to work on acknowledging how you survived and have been coping, own the good and the bad, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Remember you did what you needed to survive. Let your reflection be your guide forward. Let the plan be the path to happiness and self-love. Let the plan be your guide to freedom. Let the plan give you a chance at controlling your life and living it on your terms. Decide to begin 2020 with your goals and dreams as the driving force behind your actions. Know that no one truly understands what you have survived and what you need to heal. Know that the decisions you make for you are the first step to feeling empowered. Know that the path to healing is crowded with others on the same journey. You are not alone. Know we are here to listen and help. We are all walking a similar path not the same but we all understand on some level your pain. You are not alone. I know it often feels that way. But know you are not. We are here to listen. Call if you need to vent, if you need company to just be on the phone. We are here to help. Text, email, call, you are not alone. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of, you were violated. You don’t have to keep secrets you don ’t want to keep to protect anyone. You don’t have to let anyone into your life who doesn’t understand or support you. Should you want to discuss or ask a specific question don’t hesitate to send it in. Please don’t give up. You deserve to be happy; you deserve to enjoy the holidays, you deserve to decide who you let into your life and how much. Our contact info is below:
Book: The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis
Souyenne Dathorne (724-9991), Velika Lawrence – Xylaw (723-6466)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com
Facebook: SURVIVING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CARIBBEAN: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PROSAF-Surviving-Sexual-Abuse-in-the-Caribbean/165341356853908
Webpage: http://www.prosaf.org (Up & Running)