Me Too

I often skirt around this topic when it arises in conversation. It's amazing, because sexual assault/abuse/harassment, whatever hat it wears, is one of the issues I feel the most strongly about. That, in itself, is exactly the phenomenon that needs to change. The immediate sensation a survivor feels when given an opportunity, the rare podium from which to deliver their story. That's why the #metoo campaign was created; to remove the stigma. 

Why I dislike the #metoo campaign:

Every time I tell my tales of sexual abuse and assault, I am forced to relive events that, quite frankly, I can barely remember because the trauma has embedded itself so deeply in my memory that I cannot recall it clearly. My brain did that amazing thing it does when something so awful is happening that it immediately hides it from your conscious thinking. However, regardless of the details I am able to recall, I know what happened happened, and that is something that I have to live with and think about multiple times a day. So, to say #metoo is one more moment during the day that I am forced to remember events which make me question what my life would be like, could be like, if I wasn't in places at times or knew people I now wish I didn't. 

Which isn't productive. Being present is productive, and wondering (wishing, really) what would be or could be is a moment of being present that was stolen from me. 

I, also, don't want to tell people about my survivor stories. I realize all we have to do is write #metoo, but that in itself is a story. I'm not giving any details, not that I could, but you, the social media scroller have seen enough graphic movies or read enough horror stories to ascribe the series of unfortunate events yourself. 

So between the reliving of events, which I compare to what I imagine dying is like, and purely not wanting to share is a a lot of good reason for not wanting to engage in the #metoo campaign.

Because it's not a survivor's job to educate.

Because this happens so often to so many that #metoo feels like a sad last resort of an effort.

Because a hashtag feels too much like a medal, and when I say "I'm a survivor," I don't feel honor.

Why I like the #metoo campaign:

After the first time I became a survivor my mom did exactly what she should have done; she maintained normalcy. I have had the privilege of seeing a myriad of therapists through life so far, and every time I share this part of the story with them, first they want her to know she's an amazing mom, and then they agree, she did exactly what she should have done. 

What my mom did:

1. Noticed a dramatic change in my disposition and habits over a period of time.

2. Dragged out of me what had happened.

3. Told me it wasn't my fault.

4. Did everything in her power to make sure it never happened again.

5. Maintained normalcy. 

At the time, I'm really glad she did what she did. Something occurred in my life that I wasn't able to comprehend (sometimes, I'm still not sure I comprehend sexual abuse), and I was young, and she kept the rest of my world functioning. I went to school, I played field hockey, I made dollhouses out of cardboard (that was the art phase I was going through), and I went to sleep, and every day I woke up again. Some people don't do that last part.

I don't wish that anything had been handled differently. For future survivors, though, I want to find a new way of dealing with life after trauma. Because part of "maintaining normalcy" is never talking about what happened. I don't mean talking to my mom, or to a therapist. I mean publicly talking about the fact that sexual abuse is happening to so many people that I pretty much assume that every woman is walking around with very similar looking baggage to mine.

Something I go over and over and over again with my therapist(s) is the fact that people openly grieve death. It's another kind of traumatic event that happens in peoples' lives, and we wear specific colors and have ceremonies and, in my society, dedicate whole plots of land (ironically killing the earth in doing so) to the process of grieving death. Why I revisit this so often is because something I feel is a lot like death occurs more often, and we sweep it under the rug. As I get older, and what happened lives with me every day, but fades for so many around me, the reason for bringing up that I'm a survivor feels more and more arbitrary. Some call that healing, I call it compartmentalizing. 

Why do I do that? Why do I shy away from saying, "This is what happened, and some days are a struggle, and I wouldn't wish this pain on even the person that made me this way." 

That's why I like the #metoo campaign. Because it's not my job to educate, but the people that are lucky enough to not have the stories I have aren't going to be the ones to stand up either. They don't have the same fire. It's not my fault that I'm a survivor, but it's my reason to stop it from happening.

In perpetuity,

Hannah

PS: This is a bull I turned into a linocut. It feels right for this.

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