Art by Josephine Wall
My phone keeps ringing as clients are being triggered by the horrible things Donald Trump is saying about sexual assault, as well as by the women coming forward with their experiences of being sexually assaulted by him. The other huge trigger is the minimizing being done by the media, his surrogates, his wife, his supporters, and he, himself. This is a trigger for survivors of sexual abuse or domestic violence because this is what most of us faced in our own lives. Having someone grab you, grope you, molest you, or rape you is traumatic enough. What compounds the trauma is having the offender deny it, or worse, demean you or flip it back onto you, somehow making your violation your fault. The shame and humiliation associated with sexual assault or domestic violence is indescribable. Having these surrogates feel comfortable attacking the victims is the norm, unfortunately. That’s why I called this blog oxygen.
I’ve shared that I am an incest survivor, as well as a survivor of domestic violence. What helped me to heal from that, was my support system of powerful women friends, therapists, and daughters. Being able to speak safely about my trauma was like oxygen for me. Having people around me with the courage to bear witness to my truth, to love me, and to journey with me through the painful reclamation of my soul, one piece at a time, was a blessing more precious than there are words for. Healing from trauma is the heroes journey, and it is not for wimps. The flashbacks, the PTSD, the loss of the feeling of safety, which every one of us is entitled to, takes years to restore. Having people stand with you as you do that is essential.
I see these surrogates questioning why these women didn’t come forward sooner. Seriously? Seriously? The people asking that question have obviously never been molested. How lovely for them. They have no idea what it’s like to have your character smeared because someone is invested in protecting an offender. People have any number of reasons to protect offenders. Their financial security, preserving their own denial, their religious beliefs…. any number of reasons. A perfect example of this was evidenced in the rape trial of Brock Turner, the Stanford university student caught raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. His father wrote a letter to the judge, asking the judge for leniency, to not penalize his son ” for 20 minutes of action.” Yes, the rape of an unconscious woman, who woke up in the hospital, with pine needles, dirt, and debris in her vagina, has just been reduced to ” 20 minutes of action”. His other friends defended him by saying he had never raped THEM, so he must be an okay guy. This type of behavior by the surrogates of Donald Trump, and by Trump himself is having a terrible impact on survivors across the country. It re-traumatizes us. It’s an ugly reminder of our pasts, and why so many women remain silent about their abuse. That’s one of the things I hate the most about it. It silences the very people who need help the most. It keeps them in the shadows, afraid to get help. Afraid no one will believe them. Afraid of the public humiliation these women are being subjected to. Watching the bully win, on live tv, over and over, watching him get away with sexual assault, is mind blowing. Survivors are having nightmares, getting sick, having anxiety and panic attacks. Every therapist I know is dealing with this.
Having people you love and respect stand with you as you heal from the nightmare of sexual assault or domestic violence is a gift I have never taken for granted. It’s one of the reasons that survivors find me, as a healer. Having survived trauma myself, I can empathize with other survivors, and help them find a pathway back to wholeness, to joy, to peace. I love that quote by Jung:” I am not defined by what has happened to me. It’s what I choose to do with it that defines me.”
To all of the people being triggered by this predator, and by those defending him, my suggestion is to share and process with a safe person, someone who believes you. It helps, so much. It’s oxygen. Bring that pain out of the dark, into the sunlight of love. Release the shame. The shame belongs to the offender and his supporters, not you. It takes courage, yes. But we have that. We are amazing. We’ve survived things these predators and their defenders are too cowardly to acknowledge. We are each the Phoenix rising up out of the ashes of trauma, radiant and whole. Breathe. Love yourself. Be proud of who you are. I stand with survivors everywhere, with an open heart. May my journey, and what I’ve survived, help someone that’s just beginning to heal. May it comfort and bless all who read it. From my heart to yours, Judith