Every day, a handful of WordPress.com bloggers are featured in Freshly Pressed. Each week, we take a close look at one post and why we thought it was Press-worthy.
Humans endure, and so often, we endure silently. That silence can last days, months and even years, and for countless victims of sexual assault and abuse, the silence can last lifetimes.
Silence can be born of shame. Of denial. Of never having come to terms with having been completely powerless in a situation entirely beyond our control.
Misslisted felt moved to respond to the countless people who say that rape could never happen to them, because they wouldn’t let it, but also to the maddening politicians spouting off about “legitimate” and “God-intended” rape. While worlds apart, in either case, the suggestion is that the victims of sexual assault are in some way complicit in the brutal and brutalizing things that happen to them. As someone with firsthand experience, the author knows how damaging those ideas can be to the victims of sexual assault, and in culture at large:
I understand the “It couldn’t happen to me because I would have killed the son-of-a-bitch“ response. But I also know it is a totally unrealistic delusion, and it is one that is extremely harmful to a victim of sexual assault or abuse. Like my friend, I believe that it perpetuates and reinforces this kind of crime. Unfortunately I know this from experience.
This is not an easy subject to broach even in the abstract, which makes the bravery of Misslisted’s extremely personal post even more admirable. In just a few paragraphs she gently touches on her reasons for writing the post — never venturing into partisan politics or soapbox screed as lesser authors might — and then takes us with her through her own experience of being a victim of sexual assault. In gentle yet horrifyingly vivid prose, Misslisted captures the dread, the fleeting moments of ultimately dashed hope, the fear, and finally terrified resignation toward the events that took place one night far away from home and far away from friends:
I decided that I would do whatever it would take to get through the rest of the experience as safely as possible so I could survive and get back to my friend and back to my life. I didn’t know him, I was afraid of him, I had no idea what he might do if I further protested, and I wanted to live.
Just as powerfully, she then takes the reader on a journey, unravelling the decades of silence, sifting through, and coming to terms with what had happened. Coming to terms with the reality that this was something outside of her control, something that happened to her, something that she survived. This brings us full circle; as the post closes we’re brought back to the present, to the realization that this act of sharing, of writing, was both a part of the process of coming to terms with what had happened, but also an effort to reach out to those living with their own silences. Misslisted writes:
If by being open and honest here just one other person is given some insight, spared some shame, or has the opportunity to speak on her own behalf and not let someone who doesn’t understand speak for her, then I am grateful enough for that.
But this isn’t a piece of writing best served by soundbites or snippets. It’s a piece of writing that deserves to be read in its entirety. There’s nothing easy about enduring the weight of memories in silence, but it takes something else to turn that silence into a vivid and moving riposte to those who would keep a lid on it.