In Her Own Words
When Tyler and I sat down to plan our Sexism episode, we had a long list of people we could talk to. But the more we reflected, the more we realized we didn’t feel comfortable asking someone to come forward and tell their story of assault… again. A huge piece of this podcast is creating a safe space for people to share their stories. So in order to create that space, we decided to trust this community and share from our own experiences.
It wasn’t easy to tell this story. In fact, very few people have heard my story in its entirety because it has held so much shame for me over the years. And, this isn’t my only story of assault. It’s just the one I feel safe telling today.
Part of my inspiration for sharing this particular story was to give others permission to not tell their stories. That might sound counterintuitive, but the reason I held onto this story for so long was because it didn’t feel safe to share. My voice of blame and shame was so strong, that I couldn’t risk receiving that from others. The secrecy was motivated by my own fear, but it was also a form of self-preservation.
As survivors, we don’t owe the world anything. We don’t owe them our stories, our healing process, our forgiveness. Those are the things we owe to ourselves. And each of us have our own process of arriving there. Whether you work through your trauma privately or publicly, is up to you.
What I have learned through my own trauma, is that even when I’m not focusing on healing, I’m still healing. When we cut open our hand, even if we do nothing about it, the skin will attempt to heal itself back together. Emotional healing is the same. Whether we intentionally sit down to work on our trauma or just keep moving forward, life will hand us opportunities to heal and we get to choose them when we are ready.
For me, a lot of my healing came as a result of being willing to look at my past and shine light on the truth of what happened. I was able to see that I was doing the best I could with the resources I had, and I was not to blame for the things that had happened to me. I learned that both things can be true at the same time: I have a part, and it’s not my fault.
My responsibility now is how I move forward with my experiences. I choose to allow these experiences to make me a more compassionate person, to hold space for the suffering of others, and to offer support to those struggling on every side of the issue. I believe that both men and women are suffering in this misogynistic culture, and we will not have true recovery until we hold space for everyone’s pain.
Visit the ACT OF ISMS blog for resources to support your healing: http://bit.ly/BlogSexismMaria