It’s Sunday, March 18th 2012. It is the day after St. Patrick’s day here in Dublin, and by now, the city is nursing its hangovers.
Everything is quiet.
Outside, once in a while, a Luas … the local tram-system … goes by. I have just closed my window, to keep the bitterly cold air out, and hopefully help my fingers thaw out, so I can write this.
I need you all to read this. Whether you are a frequent visitor to my homepage, one of my readers, someone who just follows my blog, or even a newcomer who has … simply dropped by, perhaps by pure chance.
Maybe you are an American. Maybe you’re English, Irish, Danish … It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you believe in, whether you are Christian, Buddhist, heathen like me, or atheist. It doesn’t matter if you are conservative or progressive, centrist or politically disinterested. I need you all to see this and learn of this.
A while ago, I wrote a post about bullying. I wrote it in the form of an open letter to the parents of this world, because speaking to children who are bullies themselves rarely works in my considerable experience. Today, I will write about another kind of abuse. One which is if possible even more damaging and traumatizing than bullying.
I want to write about sexual abuse.
I want to write about a brave young woman by the name of Grace, who is doing something remarkable, and I want to write about the people helping her do it.
Most of all, I want to make you all stop and think, and then visit Grace’s homepage on the internet. I did. I just spent the last ninety minutes there. And I am shaking all over. It is not easy to write this, because we as human beings, those of us who are rational, who are apalled, disgusted, angered, horrified by sexual abuse … do not usually have the capacity to understand the depths of human depravity, or the evil that we are capable of, as a race.
I heard about this, this morning when I listened to yesterday’s broadcast of Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC show. I know many of you don’t watch that channel. I know a lot of you don’t even know what MSNBC is. And this is not about the show. It is about Grace and about Project: Unbreakable.
Grace is a freshman college student at the time I am writing this. She studies photography, and this has enabled her to create a remarkable photo-project, where she takes pictures of victims of sexual abuse, holding signs with the words of their abusers. It is meant to help break the silence and the unreasonable, senseless shame that is associated with this.
It is unreasonable and senseless, because the victim is not to blame. There is never … ever under any circumstance … a reason that legitimizes rape, incest or any other form of sexual abuse. It does not exist. It is a myth, perpetuated by people who either have something to hide themselves, or who are so lacking in basic human empathy, that they would do the world a favor by shutting up entirely. The only shame involved in rape, in incest or in any form of sexual abuse of any kind, lies squarely on the shoulder of the abuser, NEVER the abused.
But sexual abuse is like torture … something I have knowledge of from my own life. Not as someone who has ever BEEN tortured, but because I have known people who were subjected to the most dreadful forms of physical and mental torture. And one thing always … always repeats itself.
“It is your own fault”.
Spoken by torturers throughout the ages, in tens of thousands of horrible cellars or torture-chambers.
“Just do as I want you to do and the pain will stop. I’m your friend, I don’t want to do this to you. Help me help you.”
It is no different from what modern day sexual abusers do when they profess their love for their victim, or try to rationalize, in their own, sick minds, the evil they are inflicting on another human being.
“I love you. Just lie still and don’t struggle so much. Stop screaming. Shhh, I love you.”
I have a sour taste in my mouth. Grace’s homepage is full of pictures of people holding up signs. Many of them hide their faces, because they want to maintain their privacy. I respect that, but the reason why many of them want to do so is, in Grace’s own words because “victims of sexual abuse face a TON of stigma”. Why is this so? Why do so many of us think, that just because a girl was drunk, it was alright to take advantage of her? That it was somehow her own fault?
Does drinking too much alcohol write “Take me, I want you to even if I scream and cry” across someone’s face?
I don’t think so.
There are no excuses, and people who try to lay the blame on the victim should not only be ashamed of themselves …
They should know better.
In the end, that sort of behavior only serves to illustrate one’s own insecurity. By distancing oneself from a victim, one hopes to not be involved. To simply be able to close one’s eyes and pretend the awful thing never happened, or at least that it wasn’t as awful as the victim, alone, frightened and emotionally and physically hurt, would have us believe it is.
There is a word for that.
Imagine if one of your friends needed your help after that kind of experience, and you turned him or her away, saying “you were drunk, it’s your own fault”. How would you be able to look at your own reflection in the mirror afterwards? How would you EVER be able to call yourself a friend again … to anyone. Conversely, imagine what you would do if you found out your best friend was a sex-offender? Would you cover it up out of some misguided sense of loyalty?
Sex abusers are criminals. For the sake of a few minutes or a few hours of the most violating, selfish gratification on Earth, they ruin the entire life of another human being.
And they hide behind statements such as those found on the pictures on Grace’s homepage. Empty, hollow statements such as “I thought you wanted this”.
Or “I love you”
or “Your mother is absolutely okay with this, just don’t ever talk to her about it”.
We have all seen stories like that before. We have heard these kinds of statements and marveled at the sheer, unadulterated evil that form the basis of them. But they are easily forgotten, pushed to the back of our minds when we get them one at a time. But to get so many of them at once, as one gets on Grace’s page is numbing.
I urge every one of my readers to go to http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com/
Remember, both men and women can be victims of this. Look at the pictures. LOOK at them. I spent ninety minutes there this morning, surely each of you can spare fifteen or twenty minutes of your life.
Look at them. And please, for the sake of decency and humanity, don’t ever even entertain the idea, that it might be the victim’s own fault.
It is Sunday, March 18th 2012 in Dublin. I have things to do today. Outside my room a beautiful, sunlit sky stretches all the way to the Wicklow Mountains and out across the Irish sea. I heard a blackbird singing, just before I closed the window.
And right now, all I can think of is how many people were hurt yesterday, when hundreds of thousands of revelers filled the streets.
Show Grace that you support her work. Show the victims that you are on their side, and that you care.
Stop thinking it is someone else’s responsibility.
It isn’t. It’s ours.
Yours and mine.
Thank you for reading.
This entry was posted on Sunday, March 18th, 2012 at 11:23 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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