Laughter

freeze

I can attest that one person’s few minutes of predatory behavior does harm someone else–for years.

Some of you have questioned whether I’ve healed, and some have told me to move on. Others have judged me for not coming forward immediately (not knowing that I did).

One commenter wrote this:

“Sorry to hear about your trauma. We adults have the responsibility to get professional help if we are having emotional issues. We adults have a responsibility to NOT wait almost 40 years before going to authorities. Myself and other women who are my dear friends we would have gone to authorities ASAP because none of us would have wanted another woman to go through our ordeal. I can assure you I know of no church body who is not compassionate and coming alongside those who have experienced what you write you have been through. Change churches.”

She continues: “No matter how uncomfortable we may be, we MUST notify appropriate authorities at once if we women have been through trauma. It’s called being responsible.”

This commenter knows very little about the nature of trauma, or the impact of predatory behavior in the moment, or the fear that comes in the moment of the actual assault. (I was told, “I will kill your parents.”) Besides the fact that I was five years old and didn’t know a police officer.

Believe me, I have pursued and chased healing most of my adult life. I am doing well. I’m not fully healed, but I am healing, and have experienced so much growth.

My anger today comes not from my own story but on behalf of those who are in the early stages of their healing, who are finding the news cycle triggering, who are being threatened, berated, and eviscerated on social media simply for telling their stories.

We must understand that, in the moment, most abuse victims don’t fight, don’t flee, but freeze from the trauma. I froze. Even so, I TOLD SOMEONE. But that someone lied to me, told me she told someone in authority, but did not. So the rapes continued. And continued.

It took ten years to tell again. And even then, I found it hard to convince the one I told that it happened.

Today during the #kavanaughhearings, Dr. Christine Ford said this: ““They were laughing with each other . . . two friends having a really good time with one another.”

I cried.

Although I have a strong memory of the abuses from the past, I had forgotten the laughter. The bantering. The casual lackadaisical nature of the perpetrators, as if they were painting airplane models or skipping rocks. It was so dismissive, their laughter. I was the inanimate object (oh how I froze, terrified), and they were the happy-go-lucky teenagers doing hellish damage to my young soul while casually carrying on with their lives.

They moved on. I’m unsure if they continued perpetrating. One of the abusers died over a decade ago, and I can’t recall the name of the other (I was so young). But when I ventured back to the scene of the crime, I knew the sidewalks, remembered the topography, stood above the ravine where the brambles tore into me. It was a victory for me, but a painful one to. Because it did happen.

Healing comes in layers, they say. And I believe them.

Today another layer exposed itself with laughter while tears reminded me of the tenuous nature of trauma.