Today is an important day for listening to and honoring survivors of sexual violence. Christine Blasey Ford opened up and was heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee about an intensely traumatic assault that happened to her. It’s hard for survivors of this kind of assault to come forward and speak up. They feel broken from the violence, they feel shame, they feel that they won’t be believed, they feel fear of reprisal from their attacker, they feel that in some ways they are to blame. They know our culture on some level doesn’t want to hear their story, not wanting to know or believe this kind of violence happens. It can also be hard to listen because this kind of violence has happened to many of us. Listening can bring to light our own wounds and pain. It may bring awareness to what we have tried to push out of our minds and hearts.
I was a victim of this kind of assault when I was a very young boy. I kept it a secret from myself for years, which is common for young children. It’s too much for a young one’s heart to accept as reality, especially if it was from a relative. When I remembered later on in my life, I was floored. I knew without a doubt it was true. But I kept it a secret from others because I thought they wouldn’t believe me. When I finally opened up about it to my family, they were loving and accepting. They believed me. That’s when the healing began to happen for me. When I could be heard openly and loved.
It’s important that we listen. Whether it’s to Christine, or anyone else who gets the courage to open up about something so painful. Even if it hurts us to listen. We are connected, and when we open up our hearts to another, we heal.
If you have been a victim of sexual violence, I’m sorry for what happened to you and the pain you must feel. Those wounds are deep and because it can hurt to know them, it can seem easier to keep them buried. But you deserve to begin the healing. The healing can happen when you begin to love yourself no matter the level of violence that was afflicted on you. You didn’t deserve the attack. You didn’t do anything wrong. Something bad happened to you and that’s a terrible thing. You deserve to begin healing today. It’s safe to start healing. You know what happened to you. You know how terrible it was. You are aware of the feelings and fears that are with you today because of the assault. Those are normal feelings. How you are feeling is true and real. Knowing these feelings is listening to yourself. The healing comes from the listening.
If at some point you feel safe enough and want to share your experience and your feelings with a loving and compassionate friend, I encourage you to take the chance. You are not alone. You deserve to be free from the pain and feel your heart grow again.