I spent some time with a good friend yesterday.
I was mentioning how the past year has been one full of changes in my life. Great changes, hard changes, exciting changes.
I shared that the most impactful changes in my life have been around friendships. I have made some incredible friends over the past year, and I am so grateful for all the new people with whom I have connected.
But then I shared the sadness I am experiencing over the loss of some friends over this past year.
These are friends I have known for years. These are friends who I thought would be in my life forever. They seemed to have disappeared. They have stopped being there. They have stopped engaging.
I told her that there seemed to be a direct correlation between me losing my friends and me telling my story.
This year I stood firmly in my truth, in my story, and spoke of my sexual abuse, shamelessly. I made a conscious decision to speak out, to reach out to all who would listen.
And the good that has come of doing so has been humbling. It has been life-altering. Speaking out has helped people.
She said, “Well, you took some very personal information and shared it all over the internet. People might feel that it is just too personal to share. It may make people uncomfortable.”
You see, therein lies the problem, folks.
I do not see it as sharing PERSONAL information. In my opinion, my abuse was anything BUT personal.
It had nothing to do with me, personally.
I was not a “person” to my abuser. I was his prey. He selected me for no other reason than he COULD. I was available. I would not tell. I was safe, and I was an easy target.
Then I played out a scenario. I played devil’s advocate.
What would happen if an entire family became homeless overnight as victims of an arsonist? What if someone violently set their house on fire? What if they lost everything tangible and were out in the cold. What would happen?
The media would be all over it like white on rice. Social media would be the gasoline and their story, too, would run ablaze.
People would flock to help them out. People would pull together and pitch in. Money and blankets and clothes and casseroles would abound.
People would feel so badly for these victims. They did nothing to deserve this horrible crime.
My tragedy, my victimization, and that of all my brothers and sisters in survival was no more personal than theirs.
My perpetrator victimized and desecrated my body. Their perpetrator victimized and desecrated the physical structure where they resided.
Does it matter how one is victimized?
Think about it. There is no shame in being the victim of arson, right? Those unfortunate people didn’t do anything to deserve it.
So, then, why is there so much shame attached to being the victim of rape? Of sexual abuse?
Because “Sex” is private.
Actually, sex is selectively private.
Turn on primetime. Is sex private?
Nope. Not on primetime.
Now, walk around the mall. Flip a magazine. Not there, either.
When sex is nonconsensual, that is private. When the topic makes people uncomfortable. Then it is private.
But if a crime becomes shameful to the general public merely because of the nature of the crime, sexual, that is criminal in itself.
Everyone has the right to respond the way they respond. People have very different reactions. I have no right to judge others on how they feel about it if they want to stay silent or ignore it.
I respect that everyone has their story. I believe that everyone is living with the best of intentions.
But for the love of the Good Lord, can we stop saying that sharing this is too PERSONAL? There is nothing personal about it.