**WARNING**Possibly triggering material (abuse/sexual assault)**WARNING**
An author friend of mine brought up a good take on this media hailstorm. With everything being brought to light in the media, what is the impact on survivors? As I discussed in my previous posts, the anxiety, PTSD, triggers, and flashbacks associated with being a survivor can make daily functioning cumbersome and mentally/emotionally exhausting. With this in mind, I think it’s reasonable to assume that all of the media talk will trigger survivors even more.
Is the solution NOT talking about it in the media? As a survivors’ advocate, I cannot tolerate the idea of keeping “hush hush” about these issues. When we don’t talk about them, when we’re silent, the result of these hidden horrors is that no credence is given to a very serious social issue in our country. Out of sight, out of mind. We collectively stick our heads in the sand and go about life like there is no darkness shadowing the lives of many children and adults who live with these issues every day.
Does that mean that specific incidences, such as the case with Josh Duggar, should be publicly discussed? By doing this we’ve went from the realm of discussing a social issue to be very specific about a particular perpetrator, which in turn forces us to talk about particular survivors. My initial response to this is that survivors are living it every day regardless. And in my opinion, when you make the choice to live your life in the public eye as the Duggars have, you open yourselves up to very public scrutiny. Yes, your private lives and skeletons become fodder for the media and public opinion. Is this right? Quite frankly, as a consumer of various media, I want to know certain things – especially anything that is considered public record – because there are certain people that I refuse to support in any way. I do not believe that people such as child molesters should be given a public forum. These are not the people we should be rallying behind.
Many have said that we should be forgiving and that he made a “childhood mistake.” I’m all about forgiving mistakes. This is how I define mistake – if you do it once, realize the err of your ways, and don’t do it again, THAT’S a mistake. If you do it more than once, like five times, that’s BEHAVIOR, not a mistake. Note, this does NOT mean that I think someone who abuses only ONCE is off the hook – the impact to the survivor is the same regardless how many times a perp offends. I’m just outlining a very specific difference between incidental criminality and habitual offenses, a difference that the law also defines.
We still have the issue of triggering the survivors. I’m torn up about this issue. On the one side, I would never support doing anything that would purposefully or inadvertenly force a survivor to relive any trauma. At the same time, by remaining silent on these issues we begin to fool ourselves that there is a sexual assault problem in this country. Through talking about it, we can educate the public, and more importantly, provide survivors with needed resources to begin – and continue – the healing process. For me, I will continue to talk about these things – even scream at the top of my lungs about them. Out of respect for the survivor issues, I commit myself to always preface a post or video with a trigger warning. This way, survivors can make the decision to read/see the material. The media would do well to do the same.
For more information and resources on sexual violence, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
If you’re a parent dealing with the heartache helping your child heal, read When Your Child Has Been Molested: A Parents’ Guide to Healing and Recovery.