The inherent right to be and to become

In her memoir My Father’s House Sylvia Fraser, a Canadian writer, journalist and one of the early survivors to break the silence, wrote in 1987 that ‘though many of my friends feared that my book would prove to be an act of professional suicide, instead it helped to open the floodgates of revelation by other survivors, forcing public awareness of an appalling truth: Sexual abuse was endemic to our society, cutting across barriers of wealth, education, religion and social prominence’

In this same book Fraser wrote ‘I had simply caught an undercurrent in our cultures collective unconscious as it swelled to a crest, sweeping aside decades of illusion about the sanctity of the family and the safety of children in ordinary houses lining ordinary streets. As we discovered during the following decades, it wasn’t just the daughters of drunks and ne’er-do-wells who were at risk, but those of doctors and lawyers; and it wasn’t only girls but boys as well; and the predators weren’t just the perverts who hung around parks, but persons entrusted with helping the troubled – counsellors and ministers and priests; and it included those with the greatest opportunity – hockey coaches and boy-scout leaders and teachers; and it wasn’t just individuals, but groups of pedophiles who preyed together on the most vulnerable, such as the handicapped and kids in reform schools; and it wasn’t only the pedophiles that were to blame but those in authority who covered up for them – the principals and the politicians and the archbishops’ Sylvia Fraser (2010-09-30)

final (3)

Yellow paint 

Motherland by Natalie Merchant

Tell me what you’ve seen

The lust and the avarice

The bottomless, the cavernous greed…….

Motherland cradle me

Close my eyes

Lullaby me to sleep

Keep me safe

Lie with me

Stay beside me

Don’t go   Natalie Merchant performing live at the Perkins School for the Blind Possibilities Gala on May 7, 2009

Visual narratives of trauma

‘Full awareness of their traumatic experience will often rock survivors’ worldview and their view of humanity’ (Alison Miller, 2010)

The process of changing and moving on emotionally means that one has to let go of many old beliefs, illusions and ways of being, and also, often breaking ties with people in one’s life. Survivors suffer spiritual losses and they may feel empty and find no meaning or purpose in life. They may lose their faith and trust in people, God or other religious figures, and their belief that the world is a safe and orderly place is usually shattered.

As survivors move on they inevitably will come into conflict with people in their life because relational dynamics change as survivors begin to set long neglected boundaries and as unhealthy levels of tolerance of others’ interference, exploitation, violation and aggression are decreased. However, the process of burning bridges is painful and needs to involve grieving and acceptance, but it is often a necessary part of survivors’ healing journey and it allows increased safety, freedom and choice.

Inhumanity and betrayal

Inhumanity and betrayal

I tell because I know,

I tell you because I will not be silent,

I tell you because I will not be silenced

(Part of Yarrow Morgan’s poem in Bass and Thornton’s anthology of survivor stories, I Never Told Anyone)