Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Impact of Your Story

In a previous blog, I told you the question Paula’s husband asked. She’s a writer, and he asked her a second question: “What kind of impact do you think your story might offer those who’ve been wounded as you have been or who are still living in abusive situations?”

Powerful question, and I answer only for myself. In my case, I faced the molestation and have learned to talk freely about it. Would it make a difference if I specifically revealed the name of my first perpetrator? The only “good” I could see is that I would have been transparent. I don’t think any further revelation would significantly impact readers.

If she were still living, would I confront her? Perhaps. But first I’d have to decide what I expected to gain. If I wanted to force her to admit her acts, I’m not sure she’d do that. Even if she did, so what?

For me, the only reason I can think of for confronting that woman or the elderly pedophile, would be to say something like, “I know what you did, and I’ve come to tell you that I’ve forgiven you.”

1 comment:

Andrew J. Schmutzer said...

Leaving aside the therapeutic salve of talking, the catharsis of NAMING the abuser, and the complex healing of learning to "own" one's story; I take a different slant on this issue. It's not the pragmatics of the immediate good that determines whether I talk of my story. It's overwhelmingly MY need to learn to be an agent in a history of pawns and deceptive games.

Of course doing harm is to be avoided, but I have half of my life left to learn to stand in the light and stop hiding in the shadows of shame, panic attacks, and skewed views of self. Healing is encouraged when I speak of my story and lean into the darkest corners of pain, layers of betrayal, and even anger at God. If I can risk the vulnerability of sharing, others can risk extending the dignity of silently listening. Abuse is word-shattering. So much healing comes in the search for appropriate words...whether others want to hear it or not. The innocence they took, but the story is mine.