Unpacking Trauma Series: Breaking the Silence
I have been seeing a lot of videos, posts, articles, and movements rising up about breaking the silence on sexual assault/trauma and I wanted to unpack and discuss what exactly #breakingthesilience is a bit here.
Firstly, it is powerful to use any means of creativity and art, logical and reason, communication and expression to share your truth. Period. There is no intention, and there is no need, for shame in whatever manner we autonomously choose to advocate for ourselves. Even if we decide not to.
But there is a vital need to not only understand but actively engage and act with the understanding, that it is a privilege to even have the space to discern whether to or whether not to #breakthesilience for yourself.
What does this mean exactly? Why is it a privilege to announce, to communicate, to share, to express, to undulate, to unfurl, to open up in any manner in which we’re able/feel led? Because to announce, to communicate, to share, to express, to undulate, to unfurl, to open up in any manner in which we’re able comes with both internal and external impact. Period. The ability to withstand such impacts, that are out of our control even if we have gone down the list of possibilities and prepared for them, without injury comes only from one’s access to resources. Pause.
What resources? Do you have access to therapy that has allowed you to unpack, unfurl, and name this truth that you’re discerning whether or not to disclose? Do you have access to clinical and communal support to process such options, pre-, during, and post-sharing? Do you have the safety to disclose such truths, in whatever manner you’ve chosen, without causing harm to yourself or others involved and/or have the privilege to be believed by the proper channels if injury is sustained or even threats come? Do you have the means to pause in your daily life that is work, home life, relationships, partnerships, school, community, etc in order to self-advocate if any impacts from sharing are too difficult to continue as normal/continue as expected/continue as demanded? Do you have the access to the necessary safety to even recognize that you’re being hurt/were hurt? Do you have access the necessary sexual health education that allows one to meet themselves, in their body, to realize consent was not extended and thus consent was overstepped? Do you...I can go on and on and on. Pause.
I break my own personal silence daily, and until this morning it even said: “Breaking the Silence, Believing All Survivors” on my website. Today that changed. Today that now reads “Unpacking the Diverse and Complex Reality of Trauma and Abuse” because the previous lines were too tightly bound to my own personal privilege. I must remain vigilant toward how I share my truths because every time I speak I am risking my safety and the safety of others in my family. However, my option to still speak, my discernment of the risk, and my ability to withstand the uncontrollable impacts are tightly bound to my privilege.
However, you have or have no expressed your truth. If you’re an advocate or a human with trauma of any kind, I believe where you exist today. I believe because belief is critical to the work I do. The work I hope to continue through my privilege of pursuing higher education to partner with my seven years of research and eighteen years of personal experience. The work that will always fail the marginalized in some manner because I am white, and I need to consistently take that into account because I operate according to my privilege by default. My intention is not to become a voice for those voiceless, nor is it to advocate for those without my privileges. It is to start a conversation, begin discussions, unpack the realities that so many can turn a blind eye to (including myself). I find that in education, I find that in writing, I find that in my own privileged compromise to manage the impacts of my sharing. Including what it does to my health.
You are allowed to exist how you can.
You are not invalid if you’ve never shared, and never will.
You are heard in your silence and believed in your battle.
You are sat beside in the noise of the residual impacts, no matter the volume of them today.
Thank you for the treasure of existing with you.