Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

It is NOT mine

I am angry because I am worth being angry about - Anon

I am angry.

I’ve been angry for many, many years. We don’t like anger much in the UK. We are at once terrified and bewildered when it lies within women. Female anger is feared because it is seen as unusual, against type. Angry men are passionate and assertive, angry women are irrational and disturbed. Anger is seen as a cancer, eating away at our bodies, minds, and hearts.

Except that it is not. Anger can give a voice to our pain, our experience of injustice. I am not pretending that anger cannot be harmful. It can be abusive, damaging and toxic. But so can any emotion or reaction. Why are we so afraid of women’s anger? Is it because it really is as damaging as ‘they’ say? Or could it be because it is powerful? What about the anger that prompts a woman to leave a job where she experiences discrimination? What about the anger that propels a woman to end a destructive relationship?  What about the anger that fuels a woman’s work? What about the anger that inspires women to start campaigns highlighting male violence and victimisation? What about the anger that provides a reason to live, a passion to thrive, and a desire to be free?

But anger is so icky. It is much more palatable for women to be calm and reflective. A big buzz word is forgiveness. I find it curious that women are expected to forgive the men that rape and abuse them. More often than not, the reasons are carved into women’s psyche as some sort of abstract shard, slicing and digging deeply: “if you don’t forgive, you won’t ever come to terms with it, or start to heal”. A big factor in this forgiveness phenomenon? We need to OWN it. So we start saying “my rape”, “my assault” and we start to hear “your abuser”, “your stalker”. Language is powerful – it shapes our understanding of the world and everything and everyone in it. I do not and will never judge any woman who chooses to say “my….”. For some women, this is a powerful statement to make. What I am recognising is that for me to use language that owns what men have perpetrated against me, the violence starts to belong to me. This leads into some ownership of the experience.  For me, this thought process starts to perpetuate victimisation and self-blame. I had over 15 years of that and I refuse to allow it to continue.

This post was inspired by a woman who refuses to “come to terms with” the rape she experienced as a child. Many people, often loved ones, cannot cope with women’s fury after experiencing brutality from men and desperately search for platitudes “learn to accept your experience” or actions “I think it’s time for counselling”. This woman refuses to ‘own it’. She voiced the feelings and experiences of many women I know. We don’t WANT to accept male violence. EVER.

What happened TO me is NOT mine to own. The experiences were violent, abusive, debasing, and the blame lies with solely the rapists and abusers: all of whom were men. It is THEIR violence, THEIR abuse that THEY inflicted upon me. It is not mine to accept, to own, to “move on” from.

I understand that a variety of men decided to abuse and rape me. I recognise that this happened to me from the day I was born. I have experienced the consequences of their violence: the trauma, the self-blame and the attempts at self-destruction. I accept my incredible resourcefulness in overcoming male violence. I appreciate and accept the care, support, love and belief in those that chose to walk along side me. I value my determination, my self-belief, my obstinacy to fight for a life I could never have thought possible. I cherish my anger – the fire that ensures that I leave the responsibility of brutality and violence where it belongs: with men.

I do not own their violence. I own my anger. I own my survival.

This post was first published here – thanks to author for permission to cross post.

 

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4 thoughts on “It is NOT mine

  • Suzi says:

    This is the first time that I have posted on here, so please bear that in mind.

    I remember going for a voluntary NHS health check at work many years ago. At the time I was in my early twenties, a twenty a day smoker, who was as thin as a rake and ate my fair share of junk food. My cholestrol, body fat, etc was all within normal range, which surprised everyone but what shocked my colleagues the most was the fact that my blood pressure was on the low side. They were shocked because I had a reputation for telling it like it is and being very assertive, not agressive, but in the early 1990s a lot of people couldn’t tell the difference. I don’t think a lot of people can actually tell the difference even nowadays or maybe they can but they just feign ignorance to make us feel guilty for expressing our feelings; how very passive agressive of them! Meanwhile, my so-called chilled out, sweet and mild mannered colleagues had blood pressure readings that were going through the roof! We were comparing readings and everyone was so shocked at mine but I said that I wasn’t surprised because whenever I had reason to get annoyed or angry, I would do just that. Once it was done, it was done and dusted for me and I would simply get on with my day. They, on the other hand were bottling everything up and letting everything that they felt simmer away and fester into resentment and this is incredibly unhealthy.

    The moral of the story is that it is good to let out your feelings. You don’t need to do this in an angry way all the time but you should let people know when they’ve crossed the line because it matters because you matter. Be assertive, pick your battles carefully, stick to your guns and don’t worry about those people who think as a female you should just smile sweetly and take all kinds of crap and if you don’t want to forgive the unforgiveable, then don’t. Why should you have to do what other people think you should do? You are your own woman so you forgive only if or when you bloody well want to! If they think you’re being irrational, then they’re the ones with the problem, not you. Maybe it frightens them to see that not all of us have a sheep mentality and are quite capable of thinking for ourselves and don’t mind who knows it. So let’s be assertive and let’s get angry if need be. You’ll not only feel better for it but healthier for it too!

  • Helen says:

    It was interesting reading this – I’ve realised I’ve never thought or said ‘my rape’ – it’s always been ‘my ex-husband raped me’. After years of increasing sexual abuse it was the last thing he did in our relationship. Where was there to go next? And I didn’t like the answer. The next opportunity I got he was out, for good. It became past tense and I moved on. I’d had cancer too, but I don’t think I ever owned it – I would say “I have/had cancer” but it was never “my cancer” – it was an invader to be fought.

    I think you’re absolutely right – identifying with and owning the event or something makes it become a part of your understanding about yourself, a part of you. And if that something is bad then your understanding about yourself becomes tainted or bad.

  • deb says:

    your all inspiring and its refreshing to read that you continue to embrace the power of knowing your self. Anger is good (fight or flight response) yes women have that too!

  • portiasmart says:

    Thank you all so much for your comments – sharing your support and experiences means a lot to me xx