In some recent posts (Parental Support During My Time of Crisis & Why A Strong Support Group is Important) I have talked a lot about finding your support groups. I really can’t stress this enough, and how important it is.
Today, I wanted to talk about victim shaming. I never understood this, nor will I ever. Victim Shaming is very real, whether it be direct or indirect. Here I wanted to share some of my experiences, and how I choose to move past them.
The First Time I Was Victim Shamed
While I was still in the process of dealing with the courts and social services, I was still trying to piece everything together. I guess you could say that I was still in somewhat of a state of shock. I went back to work a few days after everything happened. Since I could only communicate with the States Attorney and CPS during business hours I was forced to take a lot of my calls in my office.
Some of my coworkers knew a little bit about what had happened. They knew only enough, about as much as they needed to. When I made the decision to move out of state soon after everything happened, I knew everyone would eventually find out more. By that time, I didn’t care either. I would be gone by the time everyone found out.
I kept in touch with a select few of the women I worked with in IL. I was told that one specific person was talking badly about me and what happened. Although I wasn’t surprised at who it was that was talking about me, I didn’t want to know any more. I kindly asked the woman who told me about it to not tell me any more. It was absolutely none of my business what she thought of me or what happened. That was the first time I was “victim shamed”. Or so I thought.
The Second Time I Was Victim Shamed
The second time I was victim shamed was actually the week my family and I were all back in IL for my mom’s funeral. That week was hard enough, I was a complete wreck. I honestly can’t even put into words how hard that was for me. Especially considering the very last time I ever saw my mom was when she was at my house after everything went down.
One of the nights we were there, my boyfriend and I spent the night at my cousins house to try and get some much needed rest. We needed a night away from all of the madness at my parents house. When we got back the next day I was informed that, once again, I was being talked about. Apparently since I am a military veteran and “supposedly such a badass” that nothing like this should have ever happened to me.
This time, I wasn’t as nonchalant about it. I may have cussed quite a bit. “F*$% this Bi**h!” What right did she even have to say anything about this!? After I expressed my frustration, I let it go. I absolutely will not say that it didn’t hurt though. It hurt the first time, and it hurt this time a bit more. Unfortunately, once again, I wasn’t surprised that this person was talking so much shit. The element of surprise came when I found out she was talking about what happened to me and my son. I have known this person who was talking about us for more than half of my life! Even though I’ve always known her to be a confrontational person, I was still surprised. Someone that once called me her “sister” many years ago, now has the nerve to talk so negatively about me and the trauma that was inflicted on me and my son. At my mom’s funeral, of all places!
My Actual First Time Being Victim Shamed
The “first two times being victim shamed” were very direct. (Although not to my face) They weren’t actually the first times though. They were just more obvious at the time
I was scrolling through Instagram, and came across a post about people asking us to be “empathetic” to our abusers, and how ludicrous the idea was. This is what actually got me thinking, and inspired this post. Our abuser was actually my boyfriend at the time, which you may have known or guessed. So naturally we had some mutual “friends”. What you didn’t know is that he got a four year prison sentence for what he did to us.
After he was arrested, and taken to jail before prison, one of those “mutual friends” actually had the nerve to ask me to put money on his books. SERIOUSLY!? I could not believe this person had the audacity to even ask me that. This man cost me so much, hurt me so badly, mentally and physically, even made it to where I barely had any clothes to wear on my back. I barely had enough money to fix my house – my sons home, pay rent, and buy clothes. All of which, he caused. Why on earth would I send him my hard earned money to make his stay more comfortable after he destroyed so much? Even after telling this person all of this, they continued to downplay the severity of it all. (You don’t get a four year prison sentence for nothing) I was SICK to the thought that anybody could even ask me that.
How I Move Past Victim Shaming
Nothing about this journey is easy. Victim shaming, for me, can actually be really hard. Probably because in each of my experiences it has been someone I personally knew. Also, because it comes at the times when you least expect it. You’re doing well, and think you’ve moved on and all of a sudden someone is putting you down for the unthinkable acts and choices of your abuser. As if you can control another human being.
When I get upset about it, I always tell myself that their opinion of me doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to me, nor will I ALLOW IT TO MATTER.
In the three cases I listed, they were all people I knew. Two of them, not as well as the other. However, I was lucky enough to pretty much be able to write them off. With strangers, it would be easier to just write them off. I am trying every single day to build a beautiful life for my family and myself. I have no room for negativity, and other peoples irrelevant opinions about me, my son, or what happened to us. Because they are just that – Irrelevant.
I’m sure MANY MORE people had opinions about what happened. That is none my business though. I have no desire to know what anybody else thinks. My son and I came out mostly unharmed with minimal physical damage and we are now SAFE. That is all that matters. There are always going to be mental bruises, but we will continue to work on healing.
I had to force myself into that mindset. Otherwise I would have made myself more miserable than I already was. It’s easy to get upset when someone else is pointing fingers and victim shaming. No matter what it is that you’re a victim of. It stings a certain way.
Victim shaming is like ripping a band aid right off. The initial sting of the band aid peeling away from the skin, exposing a big open wound for all the elements of the earth to dig into and make it hurt more.
I’d like to think that people who victim shame have their own demons, and set of problems that were never addressed. Like the schoolyard bully that kicks people while they’re down, and won’t “pick on anyone their own size”. Since I won’t allow myself to worry about them anymore, it’s not my place to even say. They are irrelevant to me, and my opinions of them are also irrelevant.