Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Courage to Use Words...

There are words that are used to describe certain things that as a survivor I absolutely hate to hear, never mind use.  They make my stomach flip head over heels and everything in me tries to shut them out - as if by not allowing myself to connect to them I remain untouched by them.

When I was a teenager I went out of my way to make sure everyone thought I was clueless about sex, even to the point of being ridiculed for it. It worked in making sure no-one found out the truth. 

Denial is a powerful thing.  It takes a lot of courage to step out of denial and turn to face things you'd rather push away forever.  I'm still working on that but I still find it extremely difficult to use words that other people use to describe certain things.  Here are a couple of examples...

Rape - ughh. So many people, particularly young people around my age or younger, seem to use that word in a joking way.  For me it's a word that makes me want to run away and hide.  Rape is not a joke. It's not funny.  It's awful... and it destroys people.  Not too long ago, I couldn't even bring myself to say the word in any context... never mind a personal one.

Pornography - I feel afraid to even type this word.  It is a word that seeps with shame and degradation.  My past is full of being degraded and humiliated and during those times I wished and wished with all of my heart that no-one could see me.  Taking pictures and somehow immortalising those awful, soul-destroying events... there isn't a word that does justice to summing that up. 

Wouldn't it be nice if people would choose their words more carefully when they make jokes or simply throw words around without considering what they actually mean? On the other hand, wouldn't it be nice if those of us who've been on the receiving end didn't find it so devastating and frightening to use words to speak out?

Courage is a word that makes me stop and think. I've learnt that having courage doesn't mean you have no fear. I think it's the fact that you are terrified and yet you still do the thing you are afraid to do, which makes you courageous.


  1. Rape was a word that I had difficulty calling the incest that happened to me as a child. I always thought of rape as violent. I didn't see the sexual abuse by my dad and an uncle as rape. I didn't see that I was forced to do anything. In counceling, I was told that it was rape. It was not an act that I caused to happen to me or that I asked for. It was without my permission. Even if I had said yes, I was a child who wanted to feel loved by the adults in my life. Thanks for writing and sharing this post.

  2. You're welcome. :)

    I actually felt really vulnerable posting this and even considered deleting it haha!

    I'm sorry for what you've been through. I understand how confusing it can be - I think our abusers are very clever at warping the truth and making it difficult to see things for what they were.

    Incest is one of those words I can't seem to go near. It feels too big.

  3. I can understand about your not wanting to go near the word incest. I can't remember the first time that I heard the word and understood what it meant. I called it sexual abuse long before I could call it incest. Incest made it too personal, too real.

  4. Yes, you're right about that. It's funny how just a simple word can be so terrifying, isn't it?


  5. I still struggle with some of these words, but not with others (that surprise even me). I need to think about this more...

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, Puzzle! *smile* I hope to see you around. I'm following your blog, now.

  6. Thanks for stopping by Davina, and for the follow - hope to see you around too! :) Nice to meet you.

    It's definitely something to think about isn't it! I've avoided it for a long time really but I'm hoping that by writing about it a bit it'll help both me and my readers.

  7. what a powerful post...You're so right that denial is huge...and saying the word rape...I too couldn't do it for a long time. I still hate that word. It conjures up the shame and powerlessness I felt. Stay strong okay....I'm glad to have connected with you. ☺

  8. I'm glad to have connected with you too Sarah. :) Your words are so encouraging and I appreciate them!

    Denial is one of those things that I think all of us survivors battle with and it can be so difficult to get past. I still can't say the words I've written here - not in a personal context. Hopefully one day I will but for now, writing them is a good step I think. :)

  9. I think this is a beautiful & powerful post, and you should be really proud of yourself hon!! So many survivors can't even find the words to say what happened to them - maybe people reading this post will get just a little more courage to do the same, to help them tell, get help, heal. :)

    I still can't see myself as ever having been a victim. So I guess that's MY word I usually avoid like the plague if trying to describe me or my life.

  10. Hi PH...stopped back to say hi...stay strong....and know you're not alone okay. Your words...your thoughts encourage. Reading them again....reminds me how much we're all so much the same....No more denial....I promise myself.

  11. Great post, you really got me thinking about words I use and DON'T use. Because I love writing I think about words all the time, but your post opened a different way of looking at them. Thanks!

    I love your Puzzle Hat, too. :)

  12. What a powerful post! A lot of shame certainly goes with those words and their actions. Appreciate you sharing. Blessings.

  13. I love how you describe true!!

  14. Victim is a hard word too Susannah! I think I find that one hard because it has such negative connotations.

    Hi Sarah, thanks for your encouragement - I can't tell you how much I needed that! :) No more denial is such a brave way to go forward, but so needed too! It's not easy though!

    Thanks Leslie! I'm glad my post helped you.

    Hi Just Be Real! Shame can be incredibly powerful can't it? I think sometimes if we could somehow get rid of the shame and the fear, the silencing wouldn't have nearly so much of a hold.

    Hi Kim! :) I think it's a good way to try and see courage because it's so easy to think that being courageous means to do something by not being afraid but really it's the opposite of that...

  15. I have struggled with some of the words you mention, but I still struggle now with what would seem to be much more 'minor' words. So whith gritted teeth...
    When playing a wind instrument, the finger positions are known as *fingering*

    The word *Grandpa* is banned from my house, and yet still my own mother encouraged my kids to call someone that word! According to her I'm just being stupid!

    There are others, but they are probably the worst as far as 'minor' go.


blog ping service