My dear sweet friend,
I do not know you. I don't know your name, your face, or your story. But I feel confident in calling you "friend" because we share something in common. We are both victims of sexual abuse.
So I imagine you are - as I am - struggling with the results of this election. I imagine that you are navigating yourself through a plethora of emotions, including grief, anger, shame and fear. I imagine that you find yourself floundering to know what to do, or say to yourself in order to bring reason to these results.
I also imagine you feel the result of this election was a personal attack on you, opening wounds you thought had healed, or bringing to memory things you want forgotten.
These are the emotions I'm struggling with. I desperately want justification or some sort of justice to the actions that were revealed about our president-elect. Let me say, though, that the other candidate would have been hurtful to us as well.
Setting aside all political agendas, the two candidates we were given to choose from were both shamefully guilty of the neglect of human dignity. Both candidates have a history of allowing sexual abuse in their lives and shaming the victims of that abuse so it didn't interfere with their own personal motives. Neither candidate is free of guilt here, so either one would have been hurtful.
This one, though... this one makes me unable to breathe.
And to add to all the confusing and overwhelming emotions already flooding our souls, we can't get on any form of social media without being shamed further. Being told (maybe again) that we're being dramatic, it isn't that bad and it's time to get over it. These phrases not only hurt, but manage to stir up despair, self-loathing, and a sense of worthlessness.
I get it. I feel it. It all makes me want to stay in bed.
We are told to lead by example, but our new leader's example is to steal women's dignity and laugh at their disgrace. We may have family and friends that not only voted for him, but are ecstatic that he is our next president.
So, what do we do?? How do we make them understand that this goes far beyond politics for us? How do we find the empathy we so desperately crave without being diminished further?
Maybe we can't. Maybe we are forced to accept this is what the majority of our country wanted. What we can do, however, is choose to forgive. Choose to show grace. Choose to be a good example to others. Because, what's the alternative? To wish that those around us were abused too, so they'd understand what we're going through?
I don't want that! I wouldn't wish this struggle on anyone. I wouldn't want anyone to have to endure a lifetime of these kinds of memories. Yet, I understand that people who have never been sexually abused can't possibly understand how hard this is for us.
So, I'll choose to forgive and show grace, because they don't know what they're doing. And thank God for that.
I'll also choose to speak. I will speak bravely and boldly about my story. I will choose to talk about this horrible abuse culture, because that is the only way we can fight back. That is how we get our justice.
Most people don't know how bad sexual abuse numbers really are, but I'm willing to bet you do. You know the statistics. You know what the aftermath looks like. You know the signs of a victim and are aware of what predators look like. You have armed yourself, as I have, but now we need to arm others. We need to continue to speak out, and advocate for those in our walk who can't talk.
Here's the other thing... This election was not a personal attack on us. No one set out to devalue us as sexual abuse survivors even though that is what happened in the process.
No one gets to determine our worth. This next president does not determine our worth. He does not decide our intrinsic value. He may try to degrade those around him, but he does not get to degrade us. He does not get to silence us. We are valuable, no matter what those around us try to make us feel.
So go ahead and grieve. Allow yourself the time you need to mourn, but don't stay there. The same way you can't allow your own abuser to hold emotional power of you, don't allow the president to hold emotional power over you.
The election is over. America has chosen. But we can stand firm, my friend, and know that we are valuable, we are seen, and we are loved.