I’ve done work that may seem completely unrelated – leading Jewish multicultural workshops, teaching women’s self defense, and writing about patient advocacy issues, to name a few. No matter what the field, I find there is something that is disturbingly common: People like to blame a victim.
It’s easier to say that children are liars, when they reveal that they been raped by family members, than it is to confront the insidious and rampant existence of incest. (As one child advocate said, “Incest is not the taboo. Talking about it is.”)
It’s easier to say that claims of white Ashkenazi racism against Jews of color are outrageously blown out of proportion, and that the people making those claims are a bit loose in the hinges, than it is to actually deal with the rampant existence of that racism and the destructive impact it has had on the Jewish community in general and Israel in particular.
It is easier to say that a woman is attracting negative energy or choosing the wrong men or not dressing appropriately than it is to question the very existence of sexual violence and the subtle and blatant ways it shapes the lives of girls as they transition into womanhood.
And it is easier to say that someone who has endured repeated trauma, dismissal, humiliation, or other forms of abuse must have something wrong with her, than it is to question the very foundation of our society – asking why there are such staggering levels of disrespect, negligence, and callousness – especially when the abuse has happened in the systems established to protect us.
I feel angry. And it feels good to feel and embrace this anger. My body was broken, and my life was effectively ripped to shreds, by the irresponsibility of other people. But when I tell my story and question the dynamics that played out in that story, in the interest of waking people up and helping facilitate awareness that leads to change, so many people – I’d venture to say more people than not – assume that I have some character defect that 1) caused the incidents to happen and 2) make me look at life in some really distorted, negative, blaming kind of way.
This attitude is rampant, and it’s shit, and it silences people. As outspoken a person as I am, I have become silent in my own way too – beaten down, broken on a whole other level. Intimidated by the pseudo-spirituality and lip service healing path of so many people out there.
But I know who I am, and they do not. I know my Shining Spirit. I know who I was before the chain reaction of events that turned my life upside down, and I know the Life Force inside that took that brokenness and built wholeness again. I know that if the experiences I had happened to me – someone outspoken, confident, intelligent, and assertive – they sure as hell have happened to others. My guess is masses of others – people without the voice or the courage or the resources to hold up the feces for all to see and proclaim for all to hear, “This. Is. Shit.”
I am very tired right now, so I’ll stop here, but this is a topic I really want to explore more in future posts. It’s all about knowing myself and standing strong against a very cold and very harsh wind, trusting that with faith, I will prevail.