“In my opinion, this is the most fucked up part of our recovery. We come to believe we wore something we shouldn’t have, trusted too easily, or stood up for ourselves too fiercely. We literally blame ourselves for the trauma someone else caused by their intentional violation. It’s absurd when you think about it. While I appreciate others assuming I have the power to overtake someone else’s free will, you are giving me far too much credit.“
It’s only three words, yet it can be the difference between a more or less traumatic recovery: “I believe you.” What you don’t understand is the inner turmoil we have already endured to even say what happened to us out loud. For days, months, even years, we wrestled internally about whether what happened to us was actually abuse or assault. Perpetrators use gaslighting and other tactics to manipulate us and cause us to doubt our own realities. Add to that the influences of trauma and what you have is a powerful cocktail of self-doubt and self-blame. In my opinion, this is the most fucked up part of our recovery. We come to believe we wore something we shouldn’t have, trusted too easily, or stood up for ourselves too fiercely. We literally blame ourselves for the trauma someone else caused by their intentional violation. It’s absurd when you think about it. While I appreciate others assuming I have the power to overtake someone else’s free will, you are giving me far too much credit.
Society doesn’t make it any easier (although it is getting better). Those who know, or rather think they know, the perpetrator and stand up for their character infuriate me. Do you realize you are discrediting me; discrediting my trauma? How dare you! You have no idea how much fear I had and how much courage it took – how many things I needed to come to terms with to speak up. Yet here you are, all-knowing, someone who hasn’t lived through the pain, the nightmares, and the panic attacks, but believes you, and your opinions, are more valid. They aren’t. You’re wrong for thinking YOU have a say in MY story. As in the words of Brene Brown, “Unless you are in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I am not interested in your feedback.” You are not part of the solution. You are part of the PROBLEM.
It pisses me off when perpetrators evade or downright lie about what they have done. They then try to speak to their charity and good deeds as though that somehow makes up for destroying another human being. Fuck you! You don’t get that right. Nothing you can ever say or do will erase what happened – what you did. You destroyed a part of me. Murder can never be absolved. That’s what you did – you murdered a piece of me. No amount of good deeds will equate to my forgiveness. You don’t deserve it.
What I’ve needed throughout my journey of healing is to hear, “I believe you.” I’ve been blessed to have heard that both directly and indirectly over the last few years. You are my people. I have had countless people listen to and validate my feelings and my experiences. Part of this is because I removed myself from those who didn’t. I don’t need the toxicity of people who think they know my story better than I do. Go invalidate someone else because you are not welcome here. The other part then is that I purposely surrounded myself with supportive people. When you are believed, you are safe. Safe to experience all of the emotions that come while healing. Safe to heal without guilt. Safe to become a stronger, more fierce version of yourself.
“I believe you” isn’t just three words. When it is said, it means, I see you. It means I hear you. It means you are safe with me. “I believe you,” says what happened to you is not okay – no matter how many hours your perpetrator volunteers – no matter how successful they are. “I believe you” supports you as you navigate self-doubt and self-blame. It says you aren’t crazy – this did happen to you and no matter what your perpetrator says, you are the sole owner of your story. It cannot be minified or dismissed. It cannot be painted in a different light. It is yours and yours alone. “I believe you” takes the power from the perpetrator and gives it to the victim – the place it should have been all along. If you want to be an authentic supporter of anti-domestic and sexual abuse efforts, start with “I believe you.” Start with holding ALL perpetrators accountable – even if they are your relatives or friends. Start with loudly standing next to the victims – not the perpetrators. Now is not the time to stay out of it – you take a side even when you remain silent. So, who are you standing next to?
Photo: Flickr – ghetto_guera29