Over at the irrepressible Go! Smell The Flowers blog, one of the regular contributors “Aussie Cynic” (aka A/C aka Kesa) has written a post titled “Go On! Speak Out!“.
The topic is International Human Rights Day and International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Something kinda close to my heart.
A/C asked some questions at the end of her impassioned post… True to form, in response I wrote a small essay in the comments, and I asked A/C if it’d be cool if reproduced those comments here.
Note: I’ve cleaned it up a little (and fixed the typos).
Without further ado, here’s my long and rambling response…
Violence against women… well, one particular woman – me – is the very reason my blog was born.
It’s my creative outlet for all of the pain, terror, trauma, repression, depression and post-traumatic stress I’ve been dealt as a result of someone’s inability to control themselves one night just over three years ago.
So the topic of violence (and like Gareth rightly pointed out, not just male against female violence, but I’d also add in same gender violence too for that matter) is one I’ve been particularly close to for some time.
Why is Violence and Abuse allowed to continue?
I don’t think it’s a case of violence and abuse being allowed to continue. It happens because human nature is as it is. Within us all is the fight or flight mechanism.
For those people without enough maturity and awareness – physical, mental and emotional abuse are ways those people feel more in control, less fearful. And sadly it becomes a pattern for them, a way of coping with whatever is thrown in their direction.
Why we must put up with such disgusting behaviour?
We don’t have to put up with this behaviour.
He only got one shot at me, just that one night – the next day I put a protection order in place. But the internal damage had already set in. There’s been a huge toll in the rebuilding from that time.
And let me say (in case you hadn’t already guessed) that I’m not one of those lay down and take it types. I’ve fought for my healing really hard and I’ve been incredibly surprised at how long it’s taken to regain a certain level of emotional balance.
I never thought PTSD could happen as a result of an incident like mine. I thought it happened to people who’d lived through a war or a major disaster. But, clearly that’s not the case. PTSD is a very real and frightening phenomena… and it’s pretty friggin rough on the body, mind and soul.
Cruelly, the balance I’d achieved after three long years has been thrown out of whack only very recently, with another repressed memory surfacing and dragging everything I thought I’d dealt with back to the surface. More PTSD: unexpected, unwelcome, unwanted. There’s no warning. It comes when it comes.
It’s been incredibly humbling and painful to realise it’s not all over yet. Not that I thought it was all completely over – I know I have major trust issues with men – but I thought I was through the worst of emotional/mental trauma and turmoil.
My brain is only just recovering from the very ‘jelly-like’ state that a PTSD episode turns it into.
And I’m back seeing my very helpful therapist.
But none of it makes sense and everything – I mean everything – hurts. The panic attacks that go with those episodes? Have to be felt to be believed. After months of freedom from this itchy scalp condition I had for years, it’s returned overnight (fear, panic, anxiety, trauma causing physical reactions).
Why as women do we not stand up and say NO MORE!
Women can and do say no – but its really cultural conditioning enmasse that people must work to change. Before I was assaulted, I could’ve never understood the impact such a thing can have on someone’s life.
I’m guessing that’s the case for a whole lot of other people in the world too. They are complacent via ignorance – that sort of violence has never touched their lives and they can’t imagine why its important to really instil in their children the supreme wrongness of it all.
Why do women suffer in silence too scared to speak out?
Good question… I’m a smart, sassy, independent woman with a great career in the digital arena. Before this, I never ever considered something like this could happen to me. Until it did. And people can tell you “its not your fault” a million times, but there’s a huge degree of shame and fear that goes along with this sort of experience.
Shame – How could this happen to me? Why didn’t I know better? How is it I couldn’t see what he was like (and believe me, he showed no signs of being a violent type before this one night)?
Fear – I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I don’t want them to judge me as weak. I don’t want to be taken advantage of (there are people who pray on those in a vulnerable state). I don’t want to be looked upon as ‘different’ for what happened to me.
Why do we allow those committing Abuse to continue to do so?
The police… the night I was assaulted, were exceptionally unhelpful. I guess they’ve got so much going on, so many ‘worse’ things to deal with… and they’re under-staffed.
Yet we rely on our police force to manage law and order. But violence like this is not considered enough of a problem to send a police car out to comfort someone who’s been severely traumatised and go arrest the bastard who did it.
The night I was assaulted, many people would have heard my screams for help but no help came. And, very few people in my life have had enough courage, emotional fortitude and good old fashioned compassion to deal with the emotional aftermath that night has wrought in my life.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m being dramatic or over-stating what happened. I hope I haven’t. I’ve had to be very careful about who I tell these things to – and for whatever reason it’s been so much easier to do in the anonymous environs of a blog. I’ve gained more support from people who don’t know me than from most of the people that do.
Why if we know something is going on do we choose to ignore it?
I think as CC said, many people don’t want to look, lest they see something that reminds them of their own fears and/or mortality.
I don’t judge them for that; I simply understand that not everyone is equipped that way.
I continue to talk to those who can listen and understand. And I continue my healing process, damn determined this will not cast a shadow over my life any longer than absolutely necessary.
And then my follow up reply…
Hugs are more than welcome. Its one of the things I’ve missed like crazy – too afraid to get close to men in my life, but at the same time desperately wanting (safe) male hugs. I just haven’t been able to do it – well, I have recently just begun that process (reaching out to male friends I think I can trust), but its tough.
PTSD… what a fucking sick joke that is! I think it was easier to deal with when I was experiencing it more frequently. Because I’ve been free of such episodes for months… its hit much harder. Might have been easier to get hit with a concrete baseball bat than this!
No, Andre was never charged. I did get a very long protection order in place though, and I took action in other ways – letting his ex (with whom he has kids) know what happened, and the place I met him (where he used to work as a musician), I told them too. They were pretty unhappy about it, because they want their patrons to be safe. So I think I did him out of a job at that venue anyway…
Of course what happened is not my fault. Logically I know that. But it’s not so easy to believe. And I get it – you know, how weak he is, how much pain and fear he must be living with to act in that way. I know from talking to his ex that I was not the first person he’s assaulted.
And I learned in therapy that often, men with violent tendencies are exceptionally good at hiding that side of their personalities.
So I know all of that, but still, some of my anger is reserved for me. And I haven’t forgiven myself yet, not properly… no matter what I know logically and reasonably. It’s just not that simple. Wish it was!!
But I keep up the good fight. The ongoing attempts at self-acceptance. And finally it seems, I’ve been able to let out all of the murderous rage I’ve been feeling that I never felt at the time… because I was too fearful and sad and concerned with making sure I got out of that situation in one piece.
So it seems that recently I’d processed enough that my sub-conscious said okay, she’s doing well enough – let’s send out the next wave of stuff to be dealt with.
And that’s what I’m in the middle of right now. It is getting better and continues to do so.
P.S. I should add, that today as I write this… things are getting better. They are. Day by day. Hugs and kisses to everyone who’s been so wonderful to me in this time. xoxo