Healing Out Loud

Penelope Trunk, discussing her child sexual abuse, on How to decide how much to tell about yourself on your blog:

So what I’m telling you here is that I’m scared of secrets. I’m more scared of keeping things a secret than I am of letting people know that I’m having trouble. People can’t believe how I’m willing to write about my life here. But what I can’t believe is how much better my life could have been if it had not been full of secrets.

So today, when I have a natural instinct to keep something a secret, I think to myself, "Why? Why don’t I want people to know?" Because if I am living an honest life, and my eyes are open, and I’m trying my hardest to be good and kind, then anything I’m doing is fine to tell people.

That’s why I can write about what I write about on this blog.

I can understand Penelope's point here. I disclosed the details of my own rape a year ago my blog. In order to heal from this secret I felt I had to set it free and in a way that prevented me from ever lying to myself again. In the end, I've heard from many people who've endured similar experiences. In trying to help myself, I ended up helping far more than I could have ever expected.  Further, I wonder how different my life had been if I hadn't spent nearly twenty years in denial keeping secrets in shame.

Of course, like Penelope has experienced on her blog, I was treated to "wisdom", insults and other child-like "logic" from cowardly anonymous critics, including my own personal full-time anonymous hater who apparently has nothing better to do than obsess about me. Most negative response were just judgmental and immature individuals hiding behind the internet to say things online that they'd never say in person. The internet makes some personality types actually believe they are being brave by leaving angry and insulting messages when others disclose painful experiences in a healing manner.

Particulary disturbing was one poster who basically told Penelope that being raped as a child is no big deal compared to loss of a limb in war or a long-term illness. I always find it fascinating when people play the "others had it tougher card" as if that is some kind of ultimate wisdom that should automatically be accepted without scrutiny. I'm sorry, but is that poster really saying they have a way of measuring years of being raped and beaten as a child vs. loss of a limb and can prove one is worse then the other?


What is the scientific formula for such a measurement?

Or perhaps that person is okay with children being raped and thinks it is not a big deal?

As far as the whole 'women don't want men who've been abused nonsense' also being peddled in the comments – really? As a rape survivor, I beg to differ. There are plenty of compassionate and loving women out there who are not repulsed by wounded men and are willing to go the extra mile to help someone they love.

I'm sorry, but what several of Penelope's critics are doing is known as victim-shaming and it is reprehensible and unacceptable behaviour. Often it is done in self-defense in order to make their own choice about hiding similar experiences seem more palatable or the individual doing so is an abuser themselves or covering up for an abuser. Or perhaps they just want to pretend the world is sunshine and rainbows and popsicles. Either way, people who think like this are the reason why most rape and sexual abuse survivors feel ashamed of what was done to them and compelled to suffer in silence on a regular basis.

Kudos to Penelope for breaking the silence unapologetically. Anyone who doesn't like it, should thank their lucky stars they don't have to live with the flashbacks, nightmares, sexual dysfunction and other wonderful side effects of rape trauma syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is not a competition for who has suffered the worst. It is just painful and some of us choose to heal in the open, rather than suffer in silence just so certain people can go on pretending bad things only happen to bad people and not the nice person sitting next to them.

Entry also posted at: http://remodel4life.blogspot.com/2009/07/healing-out-loud.html

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