We need to talk a minute folks.
We need to talk about how survivors of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation often feel disconnected from their bodies even long after the fact. How our minds will tell us one thing, and our bodies something else. How normal it is to “shut down” and block out all emotion and connection. How, when we’ve started healing and reconnecting within ourselves, its like learning the most basic of basic things all over again and we can feel terrible all the time for quite some time.
We need to talk about how it used to be normal and “no big deal” to work through excruciating physical pain and psychological pressure, and as healing happens…we feel *everything* we’ve been blocking, and its the most exhausting and disorienting feeling, and we can’t safely do the things we used to do because we are literally feeling the disconnection.
We need to talk about how hard it is to say no, to stop doing something, or to just pause, when boundaries and trust have been broken and exploited as part of our experience. How this is even harder to do when its something we’re known for doing, or our source of income relies on us “pushing through” or performing.
We need to talk about how, if we’ve become a public leader in the area of our experience or our pain has been publicized because of legal proceedings, the pressure to pretend we’re “all better” and can always predict when we’ll be triggered (or not be triggered at all) can be almost as unbearable as what we’re trying to heal from.
We need to talk about how absolutely critical it is that we recognize the power of listening to our bodies and our minds, and prioritizing our own wellbeing over the demands of others. How this is important whether we’re alone and no one sees, or we’re on public (and dare I say, international) stages.
We need to talk about how much harder all of this is in a society that prioritizes doing over being, and performing and production over personhood. How it is so much more complex and complicated when we’re a historically excluded and marginalized person, regardless of our form of survivorhood.
We need to talk about consent. How having the option to say pause, hold up, wait a minute, not now, maybe later, and no dont just apply to sexual activities. How grooming someone to say yes and never question you, then telling us we dont have a choice to stop when we finally say we dont want to do that, is at minimum abusive. How not saying no explicitly does not mean we’re saying yes.
We need to talk about how so many of us see the hateful and ignorant and violent comments people make, and know without a shadow of a doubt that those people aren’t just offensive or crude…they are unsafe. How we see our friends and family slamming and shaming public leaders, and recognize our friends and family aren’t safe people for us to be ourselves with. How this reinforces that we cannot trust others.
We need to talk about how all of this feeds into and sustains an environment where those who victimize feel safe to keep victimizing, and they victimize with relatively small consequence or accountability…ever. How this same environment pressures those of us who have experienced victimization to just “move on” and “get over it” but doesn’t give us the space, grace, or resources to do so. How so many people are learning to do and try and become, by what is modeled for them.
We need to talk about these things.
And then we need to talk about how POWERFUL it is that someone like Simone Biles said “I need to pause a minute, something isn’t right.” And give her so much love and applause for stepping back in if, or when, she was ready. And also give her so much love and support if she NEVER competes again.
***yes, I’m aware there are other Olympians, and that Simone is bringing home the bronze. No, that’s not the point *at all* and if we cant focus on the point well…that’s part of the problem all by itself.***