I am a survivor of violence towards women.
My half-brother raped me when I was seven years old. Before that, he bullied me, punched me, attempted to drown me. I have physical & mental scars because of him. I had blocked many memories and held the truth close and tight. But when I was 21, I told Mamma. She didn’t handle it well. She heard me and cried with me, and we talked about all kinds of trauma that came at his hands. But, in the end, she said she was still his mother and still loved him and hoped I understood that she couldn’t just cut him out of her life. That gutted me; in the end, she did distance herself from him. I don’t know what I expected when I told her what had happened at her son’s hands during my childhood. But at the time, it made me feel as if it was all my fault and there was no problem with what had happened to me.
In college and during my first marriage, I experienced more abuse and trauma, but I found the strength to stand up and fight back.
When I would come to her with these events, she would ask that I not tell Daddy. Her rationale was that Daddy would end up in jail for his reaction toward the attackers; he would kill them or beat them. It took me many years to acknowledge how her insistence on not telling my Daddy affected me. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it instilled more shame in me. It had become my burden to bear and that I shouldn’t speak of it. Daddy was an adult who was accountable for his behavior, but it was my job to keep the secret to protect him and, therefore, the family.
It happens all too often when a person comes forward with the abuse they have endured, the blame and shame laid at their feet. Sometimes it is with good intention, but regardless we need to do better. We need to listen to the survivors, and we need to hold the abusers accountable.
We teach that:
Women should never walk alone.
Women should dress modestly.
Women should be nice to men at all costs.
Women mustn’t say or do anything to anger a man.
Women must carry a rape whistle or pepper spray.
Women should have an emergency signal or phrase that others are aware of; in the event of a violent or unsafe situation, they can raise an alert without being detected.
The sheer number of classes, safety products, and the general acceptance of shitty behavior towards all women, young and old, is staggering. There is even an entire conference on Crimes Against Women – this is still the world we live in. Instead of teaching girls how to modify their behaviors to ensure that they do not fall victim to violence, we need to teach boys that abuse and violence are NEVER acceptable.