Monday, 4 February 2008

Stigmas

There are many reasons for my writing a blog of this type. One of them: I was looking at a number of YouTube videos and that led me to some of the blogs by survivors. Some were without names because of the stigma attached to being a survivor of childhood sexual assault. I could say that I don't talk about it much because it makes people uncomfortable. But... If we are having a bad day - well, we're crazy. I f we get angry, well, it's because we have this terrible history and that explains everything. If we seem to be perfectly "normal", what happened when we were children couldn't have been that bad. Heaven forbid, if we seem successful, then we have overcome - it all seems so patronizing. We are witness to a world that doesn't want to know that we come from all parts of society; that there is something wrong about the way we treat our children; that we are everywhere and can't be labeled. Some of us don't survive. Some of us never find communities where we can feel at home. And sometimes it is just easier to let it go, not to explain and I don't want to be an example of how well one can "get over it", because it's never really over - it just gets easier to live with. Thirty years of therapy does wonders. Learning how to cope with the anger/guilt/depression/flashbacks and not knowing what triggers the emotions - a song, a phrase, a television show, a certain kind of touch, a smell and finally being able to know that when those feelings come, they will not last forever is the greatest gift I have received over the years.
In 2006, instead of giving an academic paper, I decided to tell my story at a workshop on theology and child sexual abuse, to bring some reality to the proceedings. It was not easy and the aftermath was even worse than I could have envisioned. The stigmatization exists and is couched in many different forms. Academics, myself included, often try to control our emotional existence by living in our heads. Writing this blog is going to be my attempt to get out of my head, and try to write with my whole being. Only time will tell if I can do that.
And just to bring in the Christian angle - god was the biggest obstacle I had to get over - but more of that later!

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