So, what do we do? We can definitely take advantage of the suggestions made by Lindsey Holmes in that HuffPost link above. We can also acknowledge that without available therapists, many of us are going to have to do the best we can for ourselves and each other. We are going to have to muddle through this, and the only way to muddle through is by supporting each other. No, we are not therapists and we shouldn’t really try to be. But, we can be human beings who care enough about other humans to offer support. Whether that be in person, through text or calls, on social media, etc. we can all offer something to each other. We can all share our stories and our struggles because right now there’s simply no excuse for anyone to feel like they are struggling alone.
No, the easiest way to break up those circles, as any kid who threw rocks into the water can tell you, is to throw another rock and create new concentric circles starting from a different location.
Gee, in my metaphor about the trauma I wonder what those other rocks could be? Mental health treatment? Care and support from family and friends? The elimination of stigma attached to trauma?
How about instead of ignoring the circles we started throwing some more useful rocks and disrupting the cycles of trauma that we see repeated over and over again in those circles?
We could also talk about abuse here too, and all the ways our stories all invalidated. How many of these have you heard from folks who find out about the abuse you dealt with as a child, or even as an adult:
“You were young, you’ll get over it” (Or you don’t remember it that well)
“Are you sure it was abuse?”
“I can’t imagine (abuser) doing that”
“Why didn’t you just leave?”
“How could you have let that happen?”
These all ring so true to either my own experience or the experiences of other survivors I have known through the years. One of the biggest hurdles we have to clear before we can really even begin to have a semi-normal adult life is believing that the way we grew up is the way all relationships work. Even all these years later, I still have to remind myself that what I do is good enough, at home and at work. Or that it’s OK to emotionally connect with new people. It’s really difficult to unlearn those lessons from childhood, and yet it’s so freeing to realize that what happened to us, wasn’t because any of these were true. What happened to us was the result of someone else’s actions that are completely unrelated to who we are, or what we deserved.
What I have been experimenting with, and which might interest some of you, is the new email newsletter tool that Twitter has made available, called Revue. It’s a little more hands-on than the current newsletter, so while I plan to send it out every Friday, I can’t swear to you that will always happen. On the other hand, I get to add some more stuff to this newsletter because it’s more hands-on. So I can pull in some links from other sources, drop in some text, etc. In essence, I’ll be experimenting with it, but you can expect that the goal will remain the goal I’ve always had with my blog, writing, and sharing interesting things related to surviving child abuse, and mental health issues.
You can subscribe, and take a peek at some of my recent experimental issues over at my Revue profile. I hope you’ll consider subscribing, and sharing with your friends if you find it useful!
So, when I look at a highly successful program like US gymnastics, like Penn State football, like USA Swimming, like English Youth Football, etc. I think we can clearly see this. Why be such a downer, don’t you see how much good this program, and the people in it, are doing? It’s probably nothing, just some misunderstanding by over-imaginative kids. Nothing to worry about, look at the success we are having in the field, gym, or water. That’s what this is all about. That’s the important thing. The rest of this will pass.
Except in the case of US Gymnastics, these ladies, and dozens of others, have not simply let it pass. They have remained steadfast in talking about it, making sure they can do everything they can to make sure it doesn’t happen to the next generation and reminding all of us that winning at all costs, is not worth the damage that is done to children who are sexually abused.
They are truly resilient, like many of us who have survived sexual abuse, and gone on to talk about it, share our own stories, and live our adult lives. But never confuse that resiliency with how hard it really is to do. Never look at a survivor who has appeared to overcome their abuse, and assume that it’s ok to diminish what happened to them. It’s never easy, and for each one who might appear to have overcome, I’ll show you 5 who are still struggling every single day. You’ll find many of them in prison, or mental health care centers. Still dealing with the aftermath of their childhood trauma without access to the same support and resources that we lucky few have had the privilege to have. Yet they are all human beings, and they were all children once, children who had to suffer at the hands of adults who were more interested in their own pleasures, comfort, and place in their society than they were to consider the damage being done to these children.
Don’t be one of those adults. There are many ways to abuse a child. Larry Nassar did and is paying for his crimes, finally. But there were a whole lot of other adults who abused these girls, by not taking it seriously, not investigating, and not caring enough about them as human beings to protect them. Make no mistake about that.