I met with an author and therapist who is well known for her work with trauma victims. I wanted to talk to her about writing, speaking, school, my work as a child advocate, and my future. She had interviewed me to understand my story. She kept changing the subject back to it, and how I must be sabotaging myself to have these things happen. Deep down I must not believe I deserve to be healthy and happy. If she would have listened to my questions she would have seen that the whole focus was on healing and what I plan to do with it. She was like a junkyard dog devouring a meaty bone, having steadfast insistence that “People like us” who have horrible abuse in the past are always sabotaging ourselves, “its subconscious”.
I decided to let it go, I did not have time to get defensive and get my questions answered. Then she did it. She actually said that I must have “looked like a victim” when I got raped. She has interviewed hundreds of offenders over the years asking them how they chose their victims and their answer was always, they chose previous victims. Stunned silence. Then she rubbed salt in her statement with, ” If I had been more careful to protect myself and held my head up….” Topping it off was the statement, “You [just] need to be able to tell them Get the F*#@ off me!” Interjection: She was gang-raped when she was eight and all the screaming she could muster did not stop them until they thought they had killed her. I was so dumbfounded by her statement I couldn’t even grab an edge of it to respond. Regretfully I maintained my calm and left her office. I must have been in shock because it didn’t last.
The fire inside me could have refined gold by the time I got home. I used all the tools I had for dealing with anger appropriately even though I wanted to rip someone’s head off. I threw a bucket of ice at my wall, one shattering piece at a time, while yelling at her for the idiocy of her comments. Then I sobbed for every person who has been or will be molested in the shadow of this kind of blatant ignorance which puts the blame on the victim instead of the perpetrator. When through an incredible act of courage, they seek help to recover, and are told unconscionable statements like these, it could be the assault which deflates their last desperate breath. Had I met her and these messages three years ago, when I was blaming myself, I believe shame would have ended my life.
So, the encouragement I offer is this: No matter how much experience someone has, no matter how long they have counseled others, no matter how well respected they are by their colleagues, they are human, they make mistakes. If their words don’t feel right, PLEASE do not personalize them. If someone hurt you, it was about their anger and their need for power and control. It doesn’t matter if you were wearing sensual clothes, taking drugs, if you were drunk and passed out behind a bar somewhere (or not holding your head up) NO ONE…NO ONE has the right to touch someone else without their permission. IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!!
Hear me…….IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!! And I will continue to do my part to expose and to educate people selling not only outrageous, but extremely dangerous advice.