(This week, I’m offering my own contribution to the extra:ordinary project (stories of everyday survival and resilience) — what does it mean to have to try and find your way back into a humanity you are afraid doesn’t want you, or that you don’t deserve, after you escape from trauma or violence? How many of us are living that question right now?
Be easy with you as you read; I talk somewhat explicitly about sexual violence and psychological manipulations in this piece.)
Good morning, writers and those readying to write. How are you singing your sleepy songs this morning? What is waking in you already today?
This morning I am thinking about the impact our writing has on others, and how we never know what piece of writing will be exactly what someone else needs to hear — and though, of course that’s generally not why we write in the first place, the issue is a good one to think about: somewhere, there’s someone who needs to hear exactly what it is you need to say and write.
Last weekend, at our first Dive Deep meeting of November, I asked the assembled Divers to write for a bit about a piece of writing that shook them to the core (having been inspired by this essay by Naomi Benaron). We wrote about stories, essay or poems that showed us something new about ourselves, or about the world, writing that broke us open, that changed the lenses we could see the world through. (I wrote about the first time I read Pat Califia’s Macho Sluts a book of lesbian erotic stories that completely changed the way I — at the time, a 19 or 20 year old young woman still being abused by her stepfather — understood that women could be sexual, could have authentic sexual agency. I will never stop being grateful for that book.)
(So many thanks to Crystal Loya for our next extra:ordinary project story (stories from our community of our recovery, resistance and resilience). Find out more about Crystal’s work at https://www.facebook.com/theladieswiththe.scars)
I myself being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a family member experienced first hand what life would be with no support in recovery after a traumatic situation. As a child at the age of eight as I lay in my bed sleeping before the following day of school I was awoken to a hand touching my body. Not being close to my mother and experiencing emotional abuse from her I had no were to turn. As the abuse progressed I was so scared as a child to speak out about the sexual abuse I kept to myself in fear of what else would be done to me. One day after coming out to my mother about the sexual abuse that was tacking place by an older sibling, the whole situation tore the family completely apart. There were no more family events, no talks about how to deal and the abuse had no fix, then come to find out other family members had been sexually abused by the same person. There was no help in our family home, and due to the lack of communication there was no healing as a family. At the age of fourteen I left home began employment and began to cross obstacles and the healing process alone, I never looked for comfort in my family nor did I ever see my violator again.. Being so young I had no clue how to even get help once I got older. At the age of seventeen I vowed to open a non profit one day to help survivors and children of sexual abuse. The safe haven would make individuals more aware of the American Statistical Association by the U.S department of justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. I will follow out the plan for the five year goal that includes a safe haven for women and in the future an opening for male survivors. Childhood victims increase every year I will use my degree to pursue the safe haven and child sexual abuse.
(Want to share your story of resilience and resistance? See the call for contributions here!)
(Our first submission for the extra:ordinary project (community stories of recovery, resistance and resilience) is from Neil in Canada — so grateful for his willingness to share this story about grace and the ways we keep ourselves alive. Thank you, Neil, for these good words.)
Able to Breathe
For me one of the hardest things was the aftermath. I was sexually touched as a five year old, sexually photographed at six. From seven to twelve I was mercilessly terrorized by a group of school yard bullies. All of these people were known to me. Most lingered in my life for a long while.