Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On Courage

RMott64 wrote a post titled On Courage which begins with:

I wish to write, even though I am completely mentally drained.
I am writing because I think I am having some understanding of what courage Survivors have to have.
It is the the courage to go forward with life.
I feel that in the last few days I have reach an emotional state where fear and grief is drowning me.
This for most of my life fear has underpinned my day-to-day experience.
I have live with fear for so long, that most of the time I do not recognise it.

The struggle of breaking free from the impact of sexual violence and the traps which make that harder are often unacknowledged even by those who have sympathy for those who have been victimized. Too often the process of getting free is over simplified into "don't be a victim, be a survivor."

Those who have been sexually assaulted but never in conjunction with relationship abuse may not understand the persistent nature of messages from offenders to their victims which were used to justify violence -- much of it preceding the physical violence. One of the key messages is that the victim caused the violence.

In my case, my boyfriend did this before rape through compliments which set me up as having power and him being helpless to resist my power. I didn't realize until decades later how intentional these messages were and how they were designed to help him get away with the unapologetic ignoring of what he knew was a non-negotiable boundary.

Here's my comment:

I'm glad that you are embracing your courage even if it hurts. I've been there and at the time I was afraid the hurt was never ending.

In some ways it's like your numbness is a hidy-hole in the middle of a prison surrounded by barbed wire. In that prison it is the safest place. As long as others are patrolling that prison it was good to stay there.

Because of rampant denial many people refuse to see these structures even when they are presented with undeniable evidence. It’s simply easier to call raped children "sexually mature" or to shrug when these children don’t instantly think and behave as if the abuse never happened once they are away from their abusers or once they are adults.

When those who built that prison leave, they leave behind all that structure they so carefully created to trap you. This is why it takes courage to move away from that numb hidy-hole. That and those who go looking for those stuck in these structures hoping that they will make exploitation easier.

But the barbed wire borders can be cut piece by piece by piece. With people that care and who understand, you don’t have to be alone as you work your way free.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:13 AM   1 comments links to this post


At April 23, 2008 11:09 AM, OpenID rmott62 said...

Thanks so much this post. I feel very honoured. Also, reading your amazing comment is helping me regain emotions, especially grief. Rebecca.


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