A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be part of a presentation talking about using various Social Networking sites and how to benefit from them. One of the examples I gave of how things could go badly, is if you don’t make decisions ahead of time about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. For example, when I first started writing about being a survivor, I decided to use my real name, and link it from my other site, which made it easy for folks to know who I am. I felt like it was important for me to be able to say “This is me, and I’m also a child abuse survivor”.
On the other hand, I wasn’t prepared for everything that would mean. The first time someone I worked with found the site, and stopped by my office to ask about it, I was pretty freaked out. I simply hadn’t ever thought that I’d be having a discussion at work about being a survivor. In hindsight, I have no idea why I didn’t expect that even people I work with would find out about it, but it was a lesson learned.
If you’re going to start a blog, or even a Twitter account or Facebook page and openly talk about being a survivor, think about all the different people who are going to see that, and know that about you, and decide now whether you’re OK with that. In fact, think about who’s going to read it and whether you’re OK with that before you publish anything, let alone about being a survivor. If you’re not prepared for people you work with, or see in your offline life to see some things about you, don’t share them. Same thing in reverse, if there are things you don’t want random people who “know” you online to know about parts of your life, don’t share them.
As much as I share quite a bit compared to most people, there are things I keep private. I make constant decisions about what I want to write, and what I want to keep to myself. I also take great care to keep other people’s lives private and only share ideas in a general sense, or details that I’ve been given permission to write about. Hypothetically, if I’m having lunch with a friend or coworker and we talk about this site, and they share details of their own lives, I’m sure as heck not going to blog about how I had lunch with a fellow survivor today. Even though I didn’t name the person, there’d be enough details for people who know me to put it together. I have to be aware of things like that, and think about all of these things before I publish. That’s exactly the sort of thing that survivors later regret posting and cause all sorts of drama that we don’t need!
Sharing the details of your own abuse, and being a survivor, is intensely personal. For the folks who do this, anonymously or not, it’s a great way to help other survivors get a sense of community and support. Just make sure you’re up to whatever happens due to publicly sharing that part of yourself. There’s no reason to do more damage to your own healing just to get your story out. Do it when it’s safe for you to do, and even then, make constant decisions about what is safe for you, and what might not be.