To the Sexual Abuse Survivor Triggered by this Election:
You probably have feelings and emotions that you are searching every back hidden crevice of your mind for a word to explain, but are doing so with no success. Please know that you’re not the only one. I know you probably feel all alone right now, but I promise you that you are not.
Being told at the young, susceptible age of ten that the abuse one endured and suffered didn’t really happen and was simply made up in their head causes a person to reinvent their perception of reality. Armed with years of counseling and a Mother with the strength of twelve armies, that little ten-year-old girl learns to move past her grief, forgive the man and eventually move forward with her life. Twenty years later, that now thirty-year-old woman is led to believe she is past it, over it, through it. She tells herself and others that this part of her history is far behind her. She tells herself and others that she is actually stronger because of it. That it is a part of the reason she is who she is. She might even help other young women through their own trauma, helping to build an army of over comers and survivors who are stronger than their past has defined them to be.
All is going along quite smoothly, until a man who blatantly disrespects women is elected as the leader of the place where she has worked unbeliebably hard to be proud to call home.
As a sexual abuse survivor, seeing Donald Trump elected president may cause you to feel that same violation all over again. You are not alone. I felt the same.
Before hearing the results of the election, you probably felt like a fervently strong woman whose gender was finally seen as a hard fought equal. You felt strong. You felt unbreakable. It took you a lifetime of work to feel like you deserve to take up space. Within minutes of hearing that Trump was elected, were you filled with shame? Shame for your gender? Shame for your history? Shame for taking up space? Shame for your very existence? Did you want to feel small? Invisible? Did you weep uncontrollably? Because I did.
I wept for every six-year-old child that was never heard or believed. I wept for every young woman and man who was told it was in fact their fault for what happened to them. I wept for every human who had to face their abuser in plain daylight and soak in the shame of being told they could have prevented it if they just did a little bit more. I wept for every confused child, trying to understand how the “love” they experienced as a child wasn’t love at all. I wept for my ten-year-old self who was forced to hug the man who took away my innocence and apologize to his friends for the “lies” I told about him.
Did it take you some time to figure out where these new foreign feelings were coming from? Did it take you some time to figure out where your confidence went? I know that I sat there on my living room floor, shocked, asking myself, Where did my confidence go? Why do I suddenly feel this unbelievable shame?
In the end, the answer was simple. Right or wrong, I felt violated. Again. I felt like everyone around me took the side of the man who violated me as a child. I felt as though the man who took my innocence won. Again. Trump’s victory was a trigger.
I have stayed silent throughout the entire election season. I wanted all of my friends to know that regardless of their affiliation, I love and respected them and their opinions.But, I listened to all of the stories from all of the women who felt violated. My heart broke for each one of them. No part of me, however, thought that the man who feels that it is his fair right to do whatever he well pleases with a woman would be elected the President of the United States.
It will probably take you a long time to understand your loved ones for supporting the man who symbolizes what you have spent your entire life fighting to overcome. You will probably feel betrayed. You will probably feel deceived and let down by the men you respected who dismissed the notion that “grabbing women by the pussy” is normal manly locker room talk. I know that I will be spending a great deal of time wrapping my brain around their thoughts, trying to dissect how they have rationalized this as acceptable. I am not angry with them; in fact, I actually understand them now. They felt disrespected too and felt their vote was going to help them reclaim their own power back. We all deserve to be heard and respected. All of our opinions matter. Respecting each other’s differences are what make us a beautiful nation.
Have you cried more times since hearing of his election than you would have ever imagined? I have. Are you mourning the loss of the people who stood up for those of us who worked so hard to reclaim our identities that were painfully ripped from our grasps without a single apology? I have.
But the truth is, I am not six years old anymore. I have a voice. I am a strong independent woman who has the right to speak her mind and the right to stand up for her beliefs. My heart is sad, but it’s not broken. And neither is yours.
I choose to still love the people who support Trump with unconditional love. I still choose to support the country I am still honored to call home. I choose to willingly accept the challenge to win back every part of every woman that was stolen, and win it back with love. Because love is stronger than hate. Love is stronger than abuse. Love is the most powerful weapon we yield. Be proud to be a survivor. Be proud to be a woman. And remember, regardless of political stance, we are and will always be stronger together.
With love and an unconditional understanding heart, you are not alone.