“Our silence is the abuser’s protection.” — Jodie Ortega
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. #SAAM
When I started down the path of sharing my own personal journey about my relationship with Domestic Violence, I was welcomed into a sisterhood of woman who had been in the same place as me. Some even, who are still in the same place as me. The more interaction I had with people regarding this issue, the more I wanted to know about the epidemic itself. In all honesty, although I knew it was happening to others, I never once looked up any information about the statistical aspect of it. Not until I started blogging.
Eventually, I landed on Twitter. There too, I found many more avenues to follow. Not only more people who were blogging on other sites, but also victim resources, shelters and government agencies, all sharing informative links and articles. So, I did my homework. I’m still doing my homework. What I quickly learned is that the topic of Sexual Assault goes hand in hand with Physical Assault. Abuse is abuse. What I mean by that is that it all falls under one umbrella.
However, I always seem to find myself taking a step back from the topic. I guess because to me, Sexual Assault just seems so much more graphic than being slapped around. I always felt like I was tough enough to handle the physical stuff. I could take it “like a man” so to speak. It’s because over time I was conditioned to do so, in order to survive. Although my abuser did attempt to rape me once over the span of all these years, it’s the one thing I don’t think I could’ve (mentally) survived. And because it’s never happened to me, I feel that I am unable to relate on the same level with women who have survived it – mentally and physically. That’s not to say I don’t support them because I do. Because there’s rape and then there is sexual abuse and molestation. And I fall under the molestation category.
What’s the difference? Is there a difference? There may or may not be. I guess it all depends on how it’s perceived. It’s all subjective. I’d think each victim has their own outlook. Bottom line is, an unwillingness to participate in any type of sexual act means the victim doesn’t ask for any of it to happen, which means it’s all Sexual Assault.
For me, coming out about my physically abusive marriage was already one secret too much. Little did I realize, I was picking at the wall of the dam and eventually everything would overflow. When asked to do a guest post on another blog, less than a month after I started blogging, it just came out. In Aftermath of Abuse, I discussed my relationship with abuse at the hands of my husband, father and grandfather. The latter was the perpetrator of my childhood molestation occurring at four years old.
“As luck would have it, he never penetrated me. It was mainly fondling. I remember several episodes after the first incident that he had me in his bed. His “manhood” exposed and he guided my hand in stroking him. In total, from memory, there could not have been more than five times that this had gone on. And as I got older I actually forgot, blocked it out, suppressed it, whatever the experts say happen after events like this…is what must have happened. I didn’t really think about it again until he passed away which was about 20 years after the fact.
When the memory came flooding back, I had told my mother and sister. My mother questioned me as if she didn’t believe me. She said, “he never watched you and your cousin at the same time. I don’t think he even ever watched you alone.” Guess what, apparently…he did. Our family was very close growing up and so my grandfather was always around. There was never a strained relationship with him. More evidence (to my mother) that this could not be a true story. I quickly dropped it. I never spoke about it again with her so I don’t know if she ever truly accepted what I had said as true. I let it go. At the wake I leaned over his body and said, “I forgive you”. I don’t know if that helped me in anyway but I felt like it was the right thing to do.
I also never spoke about this with my cousin. So I don’t know if she recalls the same incident I do or whether or not there were other one on one incidents with her. I do have my sneaking suspicions though. After all…if we are a textbook case of the aftermath of sexual abuse then the evidence is clear – she went on to be involved with drugs and I became sexually promiscuous.”
The cousin I reference above is one and the same as discussed in Disconnected Reconnection.
The point of all of this is that we all handle things differently. There is no cookie cutter abuse worksheet that makes every act the same. Whether it’s physical, sexual, emotional, psychological., etc. There are similar aspects to all of it because at the very essence of it all is controlling manipulation. Our distinct personalities make up the other part of the difference because our reactions and coping mechanisms vary.
This amazing woman, Jodie Ortega, who I have come to know via Twitter has just completely floored me. As soon as I watched this video today, I stopped what I was doing to write this post. The way she handles telling her story in front of an audience is a beautiful thing to watch. She relates part of her words through rap dialogue which seems to ease you into the reality of what she’s saying. She then breaks down numbers that are not your every day run of the mill statistics. When she speaks of her experience with a cab driver, well…get a tissue.
Healing thrives in conversation. Break your silence.