From me to you. Survivor to survivor.
The 2016 presidential election has triggered so many emotions, behaviors and for many have increased vigilance, fear, and terror. We do not always respond at the same time or in the same ways to trauma. But one thing is for sure there is always a response. Our minds, souls, and bodies respond to trauma differently. Some of our minds respond instantly but our bodies take years for us to acknowledge the trauma. Then there are some of us that do not recall the trauma but our bodies and mind respond decades later. The way I have responded to the experiences of sexual violence in my own life was through an inappropriate relationship with food & a disconnection with my body. I have hidden food, eaten way past content, eaten foods that do more to harm me than to nourish me. I have denied my body regular exercise, fun, and rest at appropriate times. I did not make the full connection between my body, mind, and soul until a few weeks ago. It was a painful connection made but a most meaningful one. Recognizing that I am more than skin, bones, stretchmarks; I am made up of body, mind and soul.
Today I want to acknowledge that the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America may feel much like another assault against you and everything you believe or hold dear. It may feel like you are experiencing the sexual violence that you endured again. You may have moments when you think you're good one minute and then break down in tears or anger the next minute and then bust out in the most gut wrenching laughter. I encourage you today and tomorrow. I want to validate this entire roller coaster. What you might feel or think right now is real.
Mr. Trump has said words that illustrate his lack of concern for women, girls, the poor, people who are disabled, survivors & victims, immigrants etc. For many of us it feels like the man or woman who attacked us won again. Whether it is because the person that assaulted you or a family member was not convicted. Or maybe we didn't utilize the criminal law system for every good reason. Or maybe we did use the criminal law system but we were not believed, mocked, or further humiliated by the process of telling our story over and over again. Maybe the person(s) that attacked you laughed at you or destroyed your credibility before you could gather your belongings and get yourself together.
This election has drawn a clear line in the polluted sand. It has unveiled so many ideas that we knew were lurking but have now risen to the surface. This presidential election has illustrated:
What distrust of a system looks like.
The real fact that Black women and women in general are not respected and in many cases women and girls are often tolerated and celebrated as long as we twerk a little or engage in hyper-sexualized behavior
The legitimate life of White supremacy.
That you don't need to have expertise in a particular area. If you have funding you can do whatever you want and be held without much accountability.
It's time now more than ever to learn trades, to love your neighbor as yourself, learn how to grow your own food, live and love together etc.
No matter what; I want you to know that I see you. I hear your voices. I hear your cries for help. I see you tossing and turning. I see you tweeting. I see you standing in lines to make your voice heard. I bear witness to the many times you said no & your voice was disregarded. I see you making posters and standing in the rain to challenge rape culture. I hear you on rape crisis hotlines listening to survivors. I know you are resisting the temptation to blame yourself. I hear you. I love you. I honor your tradition of rebelling against systems. And I see your hope. I see you wiping your tears and hoping anyway. I see you getting up. I see you finding time to dig deeper. I hear you telling others that we will Rise! I believe that the nightmares will go away and even if they don't you will learn how to cope with them in an extremely healthy way. I believe that you are more than a conqueror through the power of Jesus. I believe that you and I will live & not die (Psalm 118:17).
Let's be authentic with what scares us. Let's be authentic about the things that anger us. And let's fight back. Let's hold our elected officials accountable. Let's learn about the system so that we can dismantle it with tools that don't look like the master's. Let's equip our children. Let's grow our food. Let's not give up. Let's walk in the resilience of our ancestors. And Rise!