Thursday, June 20, 2024

It’s Different When the Victim is You.

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( When discussing an issue that can have a broad spectrum it’s easier to remain objective. As someone that studies history, the dark parts of the black experience are definitely angering…but to do the work justice there has to be an objective perspective. When we talk about subjects like slavery, the topic can be discussed, for many, without tears and immediate triggers because though it’s a serious matter you aren’t looking at slaves. Plantations in that sense is not a part of your present day reality. We fight and protest against police brutality and the murder of our people. Because this is a present day fight the anger and concern hits different. When we see another black body murdered at the hands of the police it causes us to hug those we love tighter, because it could have been you. Well, as upsetting as that scenario is…the feeling is different when the person killed is your child, spouse, family member, or best friend. What was a concern has just become a nightmare…it’s now your personal reality.

You don’t want to hear about statistics, or how bad the situation is across the country because the situation has now kicked down your front door; it’s in your house and is now forever attached directly to your life. You are the victim now. It would be callous for someone to talk to you about national numbers, and the reality of things; at this point you don’t care about that information. You wonder why the person that cares doesn’t seem to understand your reality. In principle this is how many people that experience rape/ sexual assault feel. Unfortunately, it’s those closest to you that want you to look at the overall reality; you know what that reality is, but it’s a different world when you live in a nightmare.


It’s time to get to the bottom of why it is we can cover and support family through so much, but victims of sexual assault are, in large, deprived of cover and support primarily from family. They would be better off talking to a friend that isn’t blood related, because regardless of intention family doesn’t want to hear it. They need you to get over it as quickly as possible. Newsflash, that isn’t how any of this works. You can’t have a “this is how the world is” discussion with someone that has been harmed in this way and expect them to feel loved and supported. More than likely, they want to fight you and some victims do. It is unfair to ask them not to harbor ill sentiment towards immediate family members, including their mother, if the response to their pain is harsh and dismissive.

In many cases two things are at work, on one some family members might feel guilty because they didn’t know or couldn’t stop it; the other position, which could be seen in siblings, could be a feeling of shock as the person may have been seen as too strong for this. There is also always the possibility of denial; this just doesn’t happen in my family. Granted there are many other causes for dismissal to be at play, but none if it is okay. All of it leaves an innocent person traumatized now by the harsh position of their family, as they navigate through the initial trauma of the incident.

Your family member doesn’t need you to fix them, you can’t. They need you to step outside of your situation, and truly see them and they pain they are in. They might need you to listen to them without interruption, have patience for their fear, patience for their repetition as they work through the trauma within themselves, stay by their side as they attempt to sleep, and be a safe space when they feel threatened. These are not hard things to do. Far too often it’s the care we seem to provide everyone but family on this matter. As women we must do a better job of holding each other accountable for being good sistahs to one another. It’s easy to talk about the men that are not supportive in these situations. However, women are not a greater support in these matters. Far too often a woman is judged, isolated, and treated harshly by her mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, cousins…this has to stop. It is important that we embody the standard we demand when it comes to supporting our fellow sistahs.

The numbers, “realities”, and real talk moments mean nothing when you are the person suffering. It’s always different when the victim is you; when what you will fight against has personally affected your life directly. Think about this the next time you consider silencing, or downplaying, the immediate in your face pain of someone you love that’s now a victim. Love on your sistah that has had a part of her stolen through sexual assault. Help her become a survivor simply by standing with her. Friends are great, but having family stand with you in that space is a different kind of strength, and it invokes a different kind of healing.

Staff Writer; Christian Starr

May connect with this sister over at Facebook and also Twitter

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