Every once in awhile, someone will tell me how brave I must be to talk openly about being a survivor in a public forum like this one. While I certainly don’t disagree with that, (I’m not being immodest, it does take some courage to do this and I’m impressed with all survivors who blog openly about their experiences.) I don’t think that survivors who I’ve talked to in real life give themselves enough credit.
It may seem like an oxymoron, but this is actually comparatively easy. I write, you all read. I’m not there when you read it, I don’t see the reaction to it on your face, and if it bothers you that I talk about this, you click away and just don’t come back. To me, I send this information out, and whoever wants to respond, is welcome to, but there’s no expectation of a response.
Telling someone in person, for me, is much harder. Their reaction is immediate, it’s right in front of you, and you get to see all of it, good or bad.
That’s why the fellow survivors that I’ve met in real life, who take the time to tell me that they’ve stumbled onto the site, and it resonated with them as a survivor, have my utmost respect. They certainly didn’t have to disclose to me, and I’m frankly honored that they were willing to. I realize that, in many cases, I may be one of the very few people who they’ve shared this information with, and just the simple act of telling someone who they think will understand is very important to them. In fact, many of the people who have disclosed to me, never talked to me about it after that, and that’s ok. If telling someone helps, I’m glad to have been the person they felt comfortable telling, but I also understand that brings a responsibility with it that I don’t take lightly at all.
First and foremost, of course, is the responsibility to keep their confidence. In most cases they’ve only told a few people in the whole world, it’s not my job to tell the rest for them. No my job is to react, be supportive and open to talking to them any time they need, and never mentioning it to anyone again. It’s not a very difficult job, but it is incredibly important. I’ve been entrusted with something very personal, and private, to people. It’s not to be trifled with.