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Courage of the Survivors: An Open Letter

I had a topic all ready to go for this week. Had my general theme, key points, and a great nerdy example to draw from.

 

(I really did!)

 

And then….this week happened.

 

I don’t know how many of you watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony alleging sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I don’t know how many of you feel that the decisions made following that hearing were the right ones, and how many feel they were the wrong ones. This post is not about that.

 

To speak is a risk

 

Dr. Ford spent hours recounting a traumatic experience from her high school years. Whatever your beliefs about her decision to speak out, lifting her voice was an exercise in courage. Dr. Ford probably knew that once she came forward with her story, she risked having her life, her character, and her integrity questioned by those who found reason to doubt her. Almost certainly, she knew that even if everyone believed her, that her testimony might not make a difference.

 

Likewise, many of you may have struggled with whether or not to tell anyone about the abuse – whether physical, sexual, emotional, or narcissistic – that you have survived. One of the more pernicious aspects of narcissistic abuse is gaslighting – making you doubt yourself and doubt that others will believe you. Most survivors of narcissistic abuse believe the lie that no one else will believe them. As a result, they often remain quiet for a very long time. After all, why would you speak up if you truly believe no one will listen to you?

 

To speak is courageous

 

Because that’s what it really comes down to, really. Choosing whether or not to disclose your experiences of abuse is deeply affected by how you anticipate your disclosure being received. And for those who have suffered narcissistic or other emotional abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse (or all of the above), you have most likely faced that sweaty-palmed question: If I tell anyone what really happens behind closed doors, will they ever believe me?

 

Which is worse? To tell your story and have it discounted, or to be believed and to find that it doesn’t change anything? Maybe it’s six of one, half dozen of the other. Either way, it requires deep courage, fortitude, and self-trust to speak your truth to a world that may not value it.

 

Whatever your political leanings, the last couple weeks have been crazy-making for many of us. And this post is not about a political stance or statement. Above all, it is about reminding you survivors – each and every one of you – that you are strong. You are resilient. And you are brave.

 

To speak is to become visible

 

Your voice has power. I hear you, and I will raise my voice with yours.

 

Your heart is brave. I honor your strength, and I will always honor your courage.

 

Your story is valid. I receive it, and I will continue to hold space for you to tell it.

 

There is space for you here.

 

You are courageous.

 

You are valued.

 

You are Seen.