(Photo credit to Murabu)
One of the things I do on the side, other than writing and blogging is doing volunteer work for communities that I care about.
One thing I’m doing quite a lot of is talking to survivors of sexual abuse, both male and female. I’ve done this for years after spending an internship working at a therapeutic center that dealt with childhood and teenage trauma. I learned so much working there, mostly about my own PTSD—at least at that time but what I learned there has been helpful throughout the years.
The #MeToo movement has been powerful and empowering. I am so proud of my gender for unzipping the locks on their mouths and for the many males who have shed a light on their own #MeToo stories. This isn’t a one gender issue.
We all now have the confidence to release years of festering pain, to have the support of other women and men in this “club” (of which no one wants a membership), as well as the support of most decent people in our country.
Best of all, I have seen so many strong women and men find their voices and we have all come together in solidarity. This movement forces people to hear its message and the slices and wounds to the abusers have been swift and deep as they should be. Some of the worst are at last getting ready to pay the price they should have paid so long ago.
That’s the best part of our movement. We must nurture that part so that the small buds of the early spring can bloom into huge blossoms of love, support, awareness, and education so there never has to be another #MeToo movement.
But at the same time, I have noticed for myself and for others I have talked to, that these stories are triggering. More than once in the last month and a half, I have burst into tears after being flooded with a memory of hearing another survivor’s story that hit close to my own (and I have several, I have experienced abuse on both the childhood and adult level for many years).
Survivors of sexual abuse need to take care of themselves first. If the stories are too hard to listen to, take a break from them. Or instead of listening to the heartbreaking—the soul-crushing ones that make you want to rock back into that fetal position of safety. When you are feeling vulnerable, change the direction of your thoughts and actions: take a walk, get away from the source of your malcontent, call a friend—call me (or write me) because we all need help getting through hard times.
My therapist, whom I believe is the best in the world, told me that when you suffer any kind of abuse, no one ever cures you—you can never cure yourself. The treatment is ongoing. You can never completely stop treatment because there will always be triggers that will manifest in those terrible memories we keep locked away in safer places. We all have shadows—but the trick is to keep them small and behind us rather than large and in front of us. If we can do that, happiness is far more attainable. And that is my hope for all of you.