Our bodies, our lives

So much sorrow, anger, trauma, and pain has been filling a closed Facebook group of over 500 women ministers. Earlier this week a ministerial colleague posted about her rage after the rapist at Stanford was convicted of three felonies and was sentenced to merely 6 months–so as not to disrupt his life further.

The floodgates were opened by survivors of sexual assault. Within 24 hours, well over 130 women shared personal stories of rape and violation from as early as 3 years of age well into mature adulthood.

When I was told about this online conversation I read it all at once and finally commented about my own experiences. I was numb, but my eyes kept “leaking.” I didn’t feel like going to yoga but did anyway, and I wept silently through most of it (with one break just to blow my nose). For the closing Shavasan meditation I had trouble lying still and felt more tears leak out.

I needed time to process. Solitude, a walk, prayers, a comfortable bath, music. My personal story of abuse took place decades ago, when I was just a little girl, but I can remember the horror. I am one of hundreds of colleagues and millions of women all over the world who have been used for someone else’s heinous agenda. Every day, every night, every second.

Sexual violence is only one expression of trauma. Is there anyone in the world who has not been traumatized by something? Abuse, alcohol, neglect, misuse of power, and economic brutality join a long list of ways humans can hurt each other. On top of that are the ways survivors are ignored, disbelieved, and even blamed for the crimes of others.

Sharing stories of violence is not easy. Many of us spend countless hours in therapy to do just that. Could we create safe places to share deep emotions? Could we offer rituals of healing and wholeness? Our bodies, our lives, our hearts.

8 comments

  1. Susan · June 9, 2016

    Kathleen, I hope that women ministers will take the lead in creating safe places in which to share deep emotions, and in offering rituals of healing and wholeness. As I followed the same thread on Facebook, I was touched by the minister who began posting in response to each woman with the words, “Seeing you whole, Jan,” “Seeing you whole, [name],” until every victim had been spoken to.

  2. Kathleen · June 9, 2016

    Yes, I think several have done this or will. Part of the challenge is how much personal experience to share. I recently heard the advice to share scars but not open wounds.

  3. celesteintex · June 10, 2016

    Kathleen, thank you for your tender, poignant writing. I am holding you and all in your community in the light. ❤

    • Kathleen · June 10, 2016

      Thanks, Celeste. Many tears have been shed.

  4. Deborah · June 12, 2016

    Thank you. I find it’s only helpful to share with the “right” people. It’s difficult to know. Not everyone can handle it.

  5. clayandmaggie · September 3

    We recently read this book; it was eye-opening. We understand the mind of a trauma victim so much better now. I would highly recommend it for people who have experienced trauma, or those who love them. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18693771-the-body-keeps-the-score?ac=1&from_search=true

  6. Kathleen · September 5

    Thanks for the recommendation, friends.

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