We’re all aquainted with the Penn State circus going on. Last Thursday the news broke that the first law suit was filed. I was standing in the bathroom, putting on my make up, when I heard this. It wasn’t unexpected, but I hadn’t been prepared for the statement of the victim to be read on air. In the statement, the now 29 year old victim, talked about the shame he felt about what was done to him and the fear for his family.
I don’t really want to focus on the Penn State issue. It’s terrible. It shouldn’t have happened, and when it did, it should have been handled differently. That’s all I say. What I want to shed light on is the shame a victim feels.
I’m probably too honest about my history. I had a near brush with rape, my boyfriend at the time didn’t really like my fist in his face when I decided to fight back. I’m the victim of two separate domestic violence attacks. Yes, I’m a victim. No, I’m not as much of a victim as the boys taken advantage of mentioned above, or Afghan women sentenced to prison for zina (moral crimes, like adultery, when they’re raped by a married man). But I know the shame that haunts you, how an act you had no control over can change you.
For me a big part of my healing has been talking about it and owning that yes, these things happened to me, no, I won’t let them hapen again if I can help it.
There’s so much fear and shame associated with being a victim that only make these situations worse. I’ve gone both ways. I’ve swept the instance under the rug and ignored it, and I’ve gone to the authorities demanding justice. I can say that going up the ladder and facing my attacker was scary, but it was the most healing process I could have gone through.
Something needs to change that allows victims the right and the sanctuary to speak out about the wrongs done to them. I don’t know how or why we’ve gotten to the point where it’s the attacker who gets off free and the victim who carries the weight of the wrong, but it should change. It needs to.
And that’s my thought for the day.
If you’ve been a victim, reach out to someone. There’s no shame in asking for help.