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Next Life, NO Kids: Some of us don't want to talk about it

May 28, 2015

Some of us don't want to talk about it

When I was a little girl, someone touched me inappropriately. It was not the last time I was abused, but one of the most traumatic. So much that I have blurred recollections about what actually happened. What I will never forget are the feelings I experienced, and the awareness that it was very wrong.

When I was fifteen I lost my virginity, and those awful feelings flooded back and consumed me. I felt isolated and small. I felt lost and mentally fucked, so I confided in a very close family member.

I spoke up. I called him out.

Not only was my admission not met with compassion or support, it was met with anger. I was given specific reasons why it could never have happened - why my feelings were invalid. I felt scolded for suggesting that such a thing could ever have occurred, and was told quite matter-of-factly I must have “misunderstood.”

Obviously, that was not an “appropriate” response to what took an incredible amount of courage to voice, but that's what I got. Of course I wish it had been handled differently. Looking back, it is not surprising that later that same year I found solace in the numbing effects of alcohol.

Over the years, with the help of a therapist specializing in trauma, I have made peace with the fact that what happened to me will never be acknowledged. I have even apologized to the person I confided in for causing upset. I concede that these things will haunt me until I die, but because I have had time to process and heal - independently of how others feel - it no longer owns me.

Still, I don’t want to talk about it.

I am very comfortable not talking about it.

I find it very difficult to function in my daily life when I am focused on it. I like functioning; so I do my best to avoid the topic.

This week I find myself wondering how I would have felt if news of my admission and its response had been made public - if the whole world had been invited to offer an opinion. 

I wonder how it would have made me feel, during one of the scariest, most vulnerable times in my life to have my picture plastered all over the Internet labeled VICTIM with my story attached, available to anyone and everyone.

I wonder how it would have affected my ability to heal, the meager yet manageable ways I have, if my story had been exploited; used to make points about how often young girls are devalued in our society. 

I think about how it would feel to know that something so personal was out in the universe, being spoken about and shared by strangers all over the internet - all over Facebook.

Granted, nobody invited a television crew into my home for entertainment purposes. No one signed away my rights to privacy and opened our front door to public scrutiny.

Everyone has an opinion. They’re like assholes or something, right? Sometimes they stink.

I currently have myself on Facebook restriction because so many people want to write and talk about what happened to those poor Duggar girls - how fucked up their family is. I can’t scroll through my news feed without being blasted by the pictures, click-baitable article titles, and “Related” posts. I can’t even mention the fucking related posts. It's disgusting.

Some of us don’t want to talk about it.

Some of us are very comfortable not talking about it.

Some of us can’t function in our daily lives when we’re focused on it. Some of us like functioning, and do our best to avoid the topic.

Some of us have to step away from social media for this very reason; to avoid feeling repeatedly violated and overstrung beyond words by mug shots and articles about pedophiles and the explicit details of the torture they've inflicted.  

Sometimes after even just seeing a post like that it takes me days (or longer) to recover from the imperceptible mind fuck. It shocks my system and I feel all those feels all over again. Suddenly I'm on guard; a raging ball of anxious agitation. If you have never experienced an exaggerated startle response, be very grateful. It feels like being poked with a live electrical chord, and can be provoked by something as benign as someone saying my name in a quiet room. It's fucking awful.

That's my problem though, not yours. 

Some might suggest, given these facts, that I simply remove myself completely from Facebook. After all, why should people have to watch what they post just because someone else might be affected in ridiculously negative ways?

Every time a story shared seemingly for shock value or commentary comes across my feed, I wonder how the survivor of that story might feel about it being shared 100,000 times with comments like,“Can you believe this?”

Yes. Yes we can.

I understand that these things need to be discussed, and that not talking about it is not the blanket solution for childhood sexual abuse. I guess I’m just uncomfortable with the line.

Where is the line between being proactive and discussing these matters without desensitizing them to the point that we might as well be sharing a recipe for apple pie? Where is the line between sharing news and current events without provoking and promoting fear and wretched anxiety? Where is the line between discussing tragedy and exploiting it? 

Where is the line? Is there one?

If we’re sharing posts to get the word out or to be proactive and preventive, let’s do it! I'm on board! I just feel really uncomfortable with the amount of scandalous shit posted every single fucking day just for the sake of outrage. I know I'm not the only one with a traumatic history or reoccurring symptoms of PTSD, and I'm not the only one wishing friends would reconsider sharing certain things.

The process of dealing and healing after trauma is extremely personal; whether it is discussed ad nauseum or never ever again. Having experienced so much in my own life, it hurts my heart to see these personal matters handled in such an insensitive and impersonal way, as if the victims' feelings don't factor in.

Those girls were violated; their lives forever changed. They may never fully recover, and their wounds may never completely heal. Maybe they want to talk about it, maybe they don't, but I can assure you they do not want the world talking about it. I can't imagine this a part of their lives they wanted in the spotlight.

Maybe they don't want to be made the face of injustice, used as an example of the terrible things that happen to little girls, or be exploited to make that point. How can we voice outrage about their human rights and feelings being devalued, while we callously plaster their faces and personal matters all over the Internet?

Please. Tell me.

I understand the ramifications resulting from lack of adequate support and action after a disclosure. I understand and believe that education and advocacy is necessary and useful when it comes to childhood sexual abuse and trauma. I just don't understand how pointing fingers and exploiting the pain of its victims serves anyone.

The next time a tragic story pops up in your news feed, I beg you to think before clicking "share." Ask yourself how you might feel if the story was about you - if you would feel comfortable with hundreds of thousands of people viewing it if it involved your child. 

Please be aware that you may have friends, like me, who may feel horribly triggered by the graphic articles and photos you choose to share on social media. 

Some of you won't mind, but some of us don't want to talk about it. 

Whether you love what you just read or hated everything about it, let's connect and talk about it! I'm always open to honest feedback. Come be social with me!

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At 5/28/2015 , Anonymous thenotsosupermom said...

I believe part of the bigger issue that people have with this family is that according to their beliefs and what they teach, that their girls don't appear to have a voice--even if it's just about apple pie. I don't think anyone needs to hear "their side"--which is kind of a moot term because nothing that happened is being refuted--but I believe that they should have an opportunity to HAVE a side in a sense. And by that I mean that they should have a voice--even if they choose not to shout anything from the rooftops.

These girls did not choose to be in the public eye EVER--even before ANY of this bullshit has gone down. None of these children did--victims or not. It might even be argued they they have all in some way been victimized by their parents' choice to bring the public magnifying glass into their lives.

But as far as the 4 (sibling) victims in this family, I hope they may someday find their voices and their vision and see the bigger picture of this world and how they have been wronged--not just by their brother, but by their parents and by everyone defending and excusing what has happened to them.

At 5/29/2015 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

I appreciate your comment and feedback, however, this post is not about the family or the issues within it. This post is about the fact that it's none of our business. Just because we're invited to the show doesn't mean we have to watch.

If it's true that the Duggar kids have all been victimized by their parents' choice to bring in cameras, it could be argued that those who watched the show are just as guilty. WE, as a society, decide "popular" culture. WE determine what will receive great ratings, and the media obliges.

Let's be honest about the fact that scandal and the exploitation of human struggle sells. Let's be honest that the more grotesque the story, the more likely it will get our attention. We LOVE bad news.

THAT is the problem. We blame the media for the decline in our standards re: sense of morality, respect for privacy etc., but WE make those decisions. Without our willingness to participate in all of the bullshit and noise, the media has very little power. Perhaps it is cyclical, but it will continue and inevitably get worse if we as a society don't start taking some responsibility for it.

This post is about the part WE play in all of this, and how our unawareness of that is damaging.

At 5/29/2015 , Anonymous thenotsosupermom said...

I understand your point and I don't argue that any of that "sells." It absolutely boggles my mind that people watch any of that shit. "Real" Housewives (there's a misnomer if ever), Honey Boo-boo, it's all garbage and I don't necessarily blame the media. WE watch is, so they put it out there. But then again, would the Duggars have volunteered themselves so readily if they thought no one around watch. Fingers could be pointed in circles forever.
And I don't think we're unaware. I think some people care (and choose not to participate) and others just wanna see the train wreck for whatever payoff they get out of it.

At 5/29/2015 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

It doesn't matter what the Duggars would or would not have done if anything. The point is, it's none of our business. Whether it's on the air or not - whether they hire a blimp to hover over our houses with flashing lights and sirens - it's not our business. THAT is my point.

I don't want to talk about it. Talking about this is participation. My post is not about them, it's about us. It's about why we seem to NEED to talk about them...and how we'll NEED to talk about the next...and the next.

It's about how some of us don't want to talk about it, and shouldn't have to.

It's about how we owe it to those girls NOT to talk about it. It's not ours to discuss.

I don't care that we were invited and it doesn't matter by whom. It's not our story, and it's not okay for us to keep going on about it.

Does that make sense?

At 6/05/2015 , Anonymous Karen Perry said...

I've been deeply triggered by all of this too. I blog openly about the abuse I suffered as a child but I've chosen to not write a post about the Duggars because there's no way to do it without passing some sort of judgment. I've never met a family who handled incest well and when the media demonizes the family for the mistakes they made in handling the situation, they demonize the victims as well.

I've also seen good come out of the exposure. A lot of people who have been victimized are speaking up, calling out their abusers and starting on the road to healing. As much as I hate the vitriol being spewed, I feel a sense of hope that what happened to the Duggars is starting important conversations that are helping survivors and their families and spreading awareness. I wish that was everyone's goal. I totally agree with you that the line is murky. At the core, this is a personal tragedy for a family.

At 6/13/2015 , Anonymous Chris Carter said...

Thank you for sharing your incredibly difficult and poignant perspective, Julie. You have helped me see this in an entirely different light. Your words will make a huge difference with how I view and support and make decisions regarding sharing these stories and consequential posts thereafter.

I hear your voice. And I want to honor it. <3

At 6/14/2015 , Anonymous Julie @ Next Life, NO Kids said...

Thank you, Chris. XOXO


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