Dear Sexual Abuse Survivor: You're Our Hero
After a natural disaster or terrorist attack, there is generally an outpouring of support. The date is noted and the survivors and victims are remembered each year. Red cross donations pour in. Volunteers show up. And a page is created in the history books. But what if the disaster is not a natural one, what if the attack is not from enemies abroad?
Victims and survivors of sexual abuse, rape and intimate partner violence do not receive such public recognition. They are not given space to talk about what has happened to them. They are not lauded as courageous. There are no days commemorating their ordeal, no monuments. Their page in the history books is blank.
Survivors of this kind of trauma are isolated from one another and silenced. The message received is: be quiet, no one wants to hear, it doesn’t matter. There is no one there to say this is a horrific tragedy you didn’t deserve and you are so strong to be surviving despite it.
The medical effect this has is to create significantly higher rates of chronic PTSD in these survivors than those of natural disasters, shootings, car accidents etc. It also reinforces the shame and blame our culture places on these victims and survivors.
The recent #MeToo movement has begun to shed a small beam of light on the epidemic of rape and sexual violence that reaches into every institution, class, race, religion, ethnicity and subculture in this country. The recent grand jury report in Pennsylvania has exposed the depth and brea
dth of the depravity that is ongoing in the Catholic Church.
It is time to recognize the heroes who have spoken out about what was done to them. It is time for a day of remembrance, a memorial school children visit and learn from, a page in the history books. Maybe even two, or three.