First I want to thank you, AnnaLynne, for speaking out and being an advocate for survivors of sexual violence. I am a survivor as well and have been an advocate for a few years now. I have a lot of support from friends and fellow advocates, however, where it matters most, my family, I have very little support. My family largely has the attitude that these matters should not be talked about openly and therefore they often don’t even acknowledge the work I do as an advocate. When I broke my silence on being a survivor, it was more of a concern about how this would reflect on my family members reputation than if I was okay. Most days I am able to just accept the way my family responds to these matters, but some days it is a struggle and I ache for them to accept me and respond in a caring way. What advise would you give to survivors who do not have support from their own families?
@StephanieChard, first and foremost, may I thank you for your honesty and openness. As survivors we must stick together and support one another. UnitedWeHeal.
The incapacity to support a survivor is a concept that baffles my analytical brain to no end. (I have this deep need to work things out, find the logic, make sense of it, but this is a topic I fear I may never understand.) Then, add on top of that that the disbelievers are members of a victim’s family and I sense my blood-pressure rising as a sour pit begins to form in my stomach. It is traumatizing enough to be victimized by another human being, but then to be left without support, or worse yet, called a liar… I just don’t have words.
In order to cope with such betrayal or any type of suffering, it takes deep resolve. Resolve to refuse to be beaten. Resolve to refuse defeat. Resolve to choose to see one’s pain for the potential of growth it holds.
But, what does that resolve look like? How do we reach a shifting point in our perspective? What tools get us there?
(Hypothetical inner dialogue:) “My family doesn’t support me. I suffered one of the darkest on-going nights of my life and then it grew darker still, as I was let down because my hopes and expectations that, at the very least, my family would believe and be there for me. So why? What can I learn about me, Stephanie, in the midst of this upset, this suffering, this sadness, or this pain?”
When you ask the hard questions you get the most needed answers. Of course, you want your family to support you. Absolutely they should be there for you and not be stuck in the world of their egos where all that matters is their illusory reputations that no one even cares about. You are human. You want to be loved. You want to love.
What you need to know is you, the essence that is you (spirit, soul, consciousness—whatever you believe) is already pure and perfect love. You are seeking a return to yourself and it is in the midst of our greatest suffering that we have an opportunity to break from dark to light.
Ask yourself, “what darkness resides over my light?” The answer will come. It is within you. Perhaps the lesson is that you have sisters and brothers and fathers and mothers in the most unlikely places. Perhaps you are learning that in the face of societally accepted betrayal, you remain resilient. Perhaps this moment, this blip in your life exists to show you your human spirit, show you your ability to stand against defeat, show you the strength of your will to survive.
You are stronger than you can possibly imagine and yet if you will just imagine you will see your strength rise to meet you and the potential you choose to see in yourself. In this moment, ask yourself, “ten years from now, when this time is a distant memory, how much more capable will I be to embrace whatever is thrown at me because I have survived this tragedy happening now?”
Suffering invites transmutation. Growing pains are called ‘growing pains’ for a reason. You feel the pain in your bones and you know it is because you are stretching and growing. You embrace it because you want to be bigger and stronger and more capable. This is true of mental and emotional growing pains as well. The question you are left with is this, “can I and will I embrace my stretching and growing so my mind can be bigger and stronger and more capable?”
When you come to the answer you will know where you are in your journey. You will know if you need to repeat a cycle again or if you are ready to move on to the next level. Here’s a hint: the sooner suffering is embraced for the lesson it brings, the faster suffering lessens and the lessons invite personal freedom.
Thank you @StephanieChard for sharing your heart. We may not share DNA, but you now have a spiritual sister in me.
Photos courtesy of Edd Lucas http://www.eddlukas.com