The Lessons I’ve Learned (TW).

So, I had started writing this post, in my head, yesterday. I wanted to get out my thoughts on heka and the resulting backlash from having used a word that was, to others, out of context. I’ll be honest, here. The entry in question would have been very meek and very mild. It would have probably been the only time anyone could clearly say that I was doing the “bad dog” thing: tail between my legs, head down with occasional glances up, shoulders hunched up. You know, pretty much the things that I’m not. However, yesterday, I ended up working on the entry where, in effect, my gods said “fuck you” when I asked for a break from of all of this. After the fact, and some thought and being unable to sleep while I wrote and re-wrote this entry in my head last night, I realized that the OTHERS™ had wanted me to work on that other entry first. Maybe they sensed that everything wasn’t over and done with. Maybe they didn’t like where I was heading with the lessons I had learned (and I’ve learned them). I’m not sure, but they bid me to wait and put it off. So, I did. And the lesson I had thought that I learned, that meek and mild lesson, exploded when I saw quite a few choice words that were inappropriate in regards to the overall situation.

Then, I got mad.

And I realized that it didn’t matter what I may have chosen to say in my original posting of this. It didn’t matter how meek or mild or how abjectly I apologized. The genie was floating around, out of its home and unlikely to go back in. I had learned that things are not as I had once thought, but I also began to see and learn that people like me are a minority, and vilified by the very people who should hold our hands and understand us the best: fellow rape survivors.

I was told that I have only made excuses for my behavior, which is amazing. I spent an entire day crying hysterically or self-flagellating myself for the incident in question. (If you don’t believe me, I have two witnesses I could produce in a court of Internet-based law who would swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help them.) I think the only “excuse” I came up with was something about having an offensive mouth/fingers. And it wasn’t really an “excuse” but the truth. Both seemed to be very offensive. I read an entry by someone I thought was my friend, talking about how I must think I’m a “cool” rape survivor because I can make jokes about it. (Actually, I can’t. I can’t abide rape jokes or jokes about what happened to me.) I must be a “cool” rape survivor because I can use the word in its original definition (original as in, prior to today’s apparent definition that all other definitions no longer exist – side note here: how weird would it be to say that a mechanic was going to violate me when I bring my car in? I was just thinking about that and it didn’t make sense) and not be bothered by it.

I don’t think I’m a “cool” rape survivor because I can say things without being affected negatively by it. I think I’m healing because of that. But, you know, I guess healing and cool are synonymous now. It’s weird how words change suddenly and no one bothers to tell me these things. (I didn’t get the memo! Can someone please re-send?)

But, I’ll tell you something. From all of this, I’ve learned a few lessons. I think I’ve reached about five at this point. There may be more in the offing, but in the mean time. I’m going to list those five that I’ve learned. I’m going to tell you what I fucking learned. And some of it, you may clap and say, “Right on.” And others, because I am a “bad rape survivor” you might not like so much. If that’s the case, you have my complete consent to unfriend, unfollow, remove me in any way you see fit. Our view of events will never be the same because this is the path that I walk and you cannot see what I do.

The Lesson of Speech
I learned that my words are more important than I had ever realized before. I learned that there are just some words that people cannot abide. I’m thinking here of that childhood rhyme that I was taught. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. I’ve talked about this before. This rhyme is an intrinsic untruth. We are taught these words as children to hold back the tears and anger and pain that others may cause by calling us names, but the rhyme holds true to other words, as well. A word cannot break your bone so in that, the rhyme is true. However, when it comes to words, they can cut you to the bone more surely than a knife. They can get to the heart of the matter and make you suck in a breath, faster than any stick. And as I said in an earlier post, some time back, while bones might heal, the pain of words may not ever reach that point.

I had never had my eyes opened to this prior to now. (After nearly thirty years of living this comes on me now? Really?) I know that seems hard to believe, but it’s true. Any lessons that may have been taught to me prior to this were swallowed up and spat out, whole. I was more interested in being miserable and making others feel that way as well. It wasn’t that entirely, but I can say that any lessons I may have learned about hurting others with words thoughtfully or thoughtlessly chosen has never happened prior to this moment. This means that I am probably woefully inadequate to teach anybody anything or that I am woefully inadequate as a human being. But, the lesson was bound to happen sooner or later and I’m glad it finally did.

Am I sorry I hurt someone by using a word that they felt was out of context? Yes. Am I hurt that other women have stepped forward and said that it triggered them as well? Absolutely. My intention was never to hurt anybody with anything I said. I used a word that I felt appropriate at the time to describe what may or may not have happened if and when I bring my car to a mechanic. To have the backlash that this has is… eye-opening. Gut-wrenching. Horrifying in the amount of people who have suffered this way.

In all honesty, I had never thought about how certain words would negatively or positively affect other people. Sure, I know the power of inflection. I know the power of how to say something without really saying it. I know all of these things, but in all gods’ honest truth, I had never once considered how my words would change someone else’s perceptions or how they might hurt someone just by their honesty and truth. And that’s the lesson. My speech is as powerful as any sword that might be used in a war, but nothing really made me understand or realize that until this moment.

The Lesson of Heka
I had always assumed that it was a Foot-in-Mouth Disease that I suffered and this is what I thought heka‘s place in my life was: it was to stop me from this idiocy. And during the day when I was crying hysterically, I had two or three people tell me that it didn’t matter how I said things or what I said. People would be offended by the words or not. It didn’t matter if I side-stepped or if I prettied them up or if I covered them in a black sheet to hide them from the world. No matter how honest I was or how back-tracking I was or how much I bent over backwards, my words would still give offense. And what I was practicing wasn’t heka, per se, but a sick and twisted form of censorship. I was trying to please everyone and obviously, I failed at that. The lesson therein was that I was doing it wrong or that I wasn’t applying it properly.

Veggiewolf said something in my post about this that really resonated with me. She said, “Words have power that is both intrinsic and extrinsic. The extrinsic power comes from communication of said words, through writing or speaking. As we communicate (heka, with “he” being the sound of an exhale) we breathe life into our words and so shape their power. Since we know that such power exists, it becomes our responsibility to ensure that we strive to communicate effectively… with the understanding that sometimes we get it wrong.” The reason this resonated with me, at first, was that she was acknowledging that it’s possible to get things wrong. Then, I read and re-read this statement over and over to myself. And I realized that the whole thing about heka… I had it wrong.

As I said, I always thought it was about shutting the fuck up about things I had no business saying, keeping certain choice bits of speech to myself, and-or respecting others’ viewpoints on others. This may be part of it, but it’s not it really. The whole point is knowing and acknowledging the power of what we say, both the power that we give it but also the power that society may give as well. Prior to this, I had no idea that society had thrown out the other definitions associated with the word “rape.” (Seriously. Honestly. I just thought it was a word like foot or television, but apparently, it’s not.) The word has taken on its own monstrous meaning, beyond even the dictionary definitions that accompany it. It has been vilified and hated, it has been feared and worried. This word has become a monster in its own right, on par with the very act of sexual assault itself. I was unaware, but I’m aware now.

I’m also more aware of just how much power I’m willing to give what I say (in future) as well as what others may give to it, as well. Again, anyone can become offended at something we say and that is their prerogative, but it is our jobs to know the power that certain words may have and use them accordingly.

The Lesson of Conformity
What pissed me off was when a woman who is older than myself pretty much chalked me up to not being a sexual assault victim because I could use the word(s) associated with what happened to me in other definitions. I learned that there seems to be a stigma attached to the social cues that each rape victimsurvivor follows. I always thought that I was part of the norm. I thought that because I could say what happened to me out loud and via the Internet that I was the same as everyone else. I’ve lurked at rape survivor forums for a while and I remember the Twitter hashtag about surviving rape. I remember seeing all of those people able to openly acknowledge what happened to them and so, therefore, I thought that I was part of the standard.

I wasn’t, apparently.

I didn’t know that rape survivors all have the same triggers, I thought they each had different triggers. Honestly, I always thought that the trigger in question is deeply linked to what happened to them and not the word that described what happened to them. As I said in my DON’T PANIC post, the triggers for me had always been the very names of the men who had hurt me. (Aside from the ex-husband, he has no triggers because he is less than me. And he will never have that power over me again. But that’s a story for a different time.) I’ll tell you some of my other triggers in regards to them, which are all tied into the people who hurt me and not the act that hurt me. A blue Toyota pick up truck. Hunting knives. (My molester threatened to kill me if I told people what happened after my ex-boyfriend and his best friend backed his story over mine.) Social awkwardness. The name “Tim.” The name “Stephen.” Black men with a certain look/feel to them. (My rapist was a black boy.) Football Letterman jackets. The word “cream.” (There was never any physical evidence of his rape because he pulled out because he didn’t want to “cream” in me.) These are my triggers and I mistakenly assumed that others had deeply personal and painful triggers.

Not a single word.

So, I learned that I am not the norm here. I learned that by being able to say that I was raped with head held high and able to catalog what happened to me, so many years afterward, that I do not conform to the social cues. I also learned that being able to say the word and understand that there are multiple meanings is, also, not the social norm for a rape survivor. And lastly, I learned that I do not nor will not conform to that social conditioning. And I’ll tell you why: I never once conformed to a fucking thing in my life and I’m not about to now. Again yes, I am sorry I hurt others, but I’m not going to stop my forward progress for the social cues and conformity.

The Lesson of Healing
All of this has brought up a lot of shit for me. It’s not just the fact that I am, obviously, losing people who I thought were my friends again. I can’t tell you how hard it was to stand up and say that football player raped me (after I was told what date rape was, anyway, because let’s not forget that I had no idea). I can’t tell you how scared I was that I would lose my friends. And I did lose a lot of people who I had considered my friends. They weren’t, obviously, but it still hurts to think about how many people I was friendly with, accepted, spoke with, and would joke with… who never once believed what I said. The kicker there? Someone else claimed that he raped them after I stepped forward. I didn’t know about that until after the fact but I remember the girl in question and I remember the haunted look in her eyes when I saw her looking at me. I don’t doubt that he did it to her anymore than he did it to me. But that’s not the point in this.

The point in this is that it almost feels like I’m going through high school again, standing up and saying what happened to me, and watching people stare at me as though I had a filthy disease. I remember the fear and the anxiety there. I have it now. But, I’m older and wiser, maybe anyway. I went through it once and I can go through it again. The point here is that I’ve healed enough to not only be okay with losing people I once thought friends, but welcome those who oppose my viewpoint. Again, I will say honestly and truly that I am sorry for hurting others, but I look at myself (deep within) and I see a burning, healing light.

I’m flaming bright here, brighter than ever, and that flame, at its heart, is healing.

To me, part of healing is being able to not quite accept what happened to you, but be willing to share you experiences with others. That does mean that you have to say the word “rape” or “molested.” You might even have to go into more detail than that, as I did when I went to trial. (They made me stand in a mirror for a while and say all body parts, including penis and vagina and breast because I couldn’t just say “rape” when I testified.) Being scared of a word to me is pointless. Being scared of the action that word describes is not. But, the word itself is only as strong as we make it. And I refuse to make it any stronger than it already is. So, yes. I say that I might get “raped” at the mechanic. Or that taxes “raped” me this quarter. I say these things because I know and understand the word is as multifaceted as myself or my OTHERS™. And I refuse to take any steps back in my healing. I’m backwards enough, as it is.

The Lesson of Me
I learned many valuable lessons from this. I learned who my friends are and who my friends aren’t. I learned that I would offend people, no matter what I said or how it was meant in the context provided. I learned that how heka was in my life was not how it was meant to be. I learned that society has made words grow larger and more powerful than they ever should. I have learned that there is a ring within the ring of rape survivors that cannot and will not abide the use of their pain in any other context than in that pain. I learned that I can open my mouth and hurt others without meaning to. I learned that a place I thought was home was not. I learned that TH (though I kind of knew this already) is a great listener and doesn’t mind it if I get snots on his shirt. I learned that the Sister knows and understands where I lie with this and accepts it, agrees. I learned that BFTX, a woman who has been through worse and worse than either the Sister or myself, also understands, accepts, and agrees. So, I learned that we three may be the minority. And I also learned that people I respected can hurt me just as easily as people I don’t.

I chose the name “Satsekhem” because it meant “daughter of power.” In all honestly, I chose it to honor my mother-goddess, Sekhmet. I chose it to link me with her via the Internet and for all to see. But, the truth lesson is that the name was chosen because, whilst her daughter I may be, I hold as much power as she does. And I’m not going to let this break me or eat at me.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. And while this isn’t entirely true, it is today. I’m done being angry and upset or guilty. I am my mother’s daughter, both the one who is my goddess and the one who birthed me. And it will take more than a word, taken out of context, to destroy me.

Relevant Posts

  1. Heka Doesn’t Work Anymore, Apparently…
  2. I Used To Be a “Cool” Rape Victim… by Morag Spinner.
  3. Those Who Know The Letters, See Double. by Arienwen.
  4. Rape Victims Have Social Conventions Too? at Don’t Panic.
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41 thoughts on “The Lessons I’ve Learned (TW).

  1. I am very much in the, “right on,” crowd. Good job owning yourself and your power. People have different paths and purposes, and not many understand that sometimes paths conflict. When they do, obviously one person or another is not supposed to be walking with you — they’re supposed to be on their own way, or vice versa.

    Good luck on the many other things you strive for in life. Many blessings.

  2. I understand that “rape” isn’t a trigger word for you, and I don’t think it should be. But consider it this way, if you and I were having a conversation, and I kept using the word “cream”, and it made you uncomfortable, and you said, “hey Fier, can you stop using that word please? It makes me feel icky.” I wouldn’t understand, I might think it a bit odd, but I would stop using the word around you. Because I respect you and don’t want to make you feel icky. I think that’s all that was ever asked of you.

    • I should have probably mentioned that my unease with “cream” stems from it in a sexual context, not in a daily context.

      Actually, I haven’t been back to the forum since I was vilified, but. I don’t think I was asked to stop using it, which would have happened anyway when Chabas commented. All I do know is that thee situation was (a) eye-opening, (b) blown out of proportion, and (c) taught me things about myself.

  3. Pointing out that not every survivor shares your lack of trigger is about the furthest thing from either “expecting all survivors to behave the same way” or saying that you’re not a survivor.

    If you are concerned about enforced conformity among assault survivors, perhaps you should stop mocking and dismissing those who aren’t just like you.

      • The whole “you poor weak shits who are hurt by my trivialising use of this word instead of having good, real, personal triggers” thing certainly comes across as such.

        • Verbatim, is that?

          I’m sorry if you saw that as mocking. It’s the truth. I always thought triggers were more in tune with the personal experience as opposed to a broad and general category.

            • I’m sorry, I was not very clear, apparently. I always thought that the triggers associated with the event itself were inherent in the event or related to the person doing the raping. My apologies for not being more concise.

  4. I am going to reply to this in chunks, because it’s the only way I can reply to this.

    It didn’t matter how meek or mild or how abjectly I apologized.

    Are you referring to your planned and discarded entry, here? Because ‘being sorry someone was offended’ and ‘being sorry you offended someone’ are not the same thing.

    (Actually, I can’t. I can’t abide rape jokes or jokes about what happened to me.)

    I can’t abide jokes about other rape suriviors, or about my experiences. I also can’t abide people taking the word that encapsulses the worst experience of my life and applying it to being overcharged, or losing a game, or any other experience that sucks to be in but does not hold a fucking candle to being physically violated and mentally traumatized.

    I didn’t know that rape survivors all have the same triggers, I thought they each had different triggers. Honestly, I always thought that the trigger in question is deeply linked to what happened to them and not the word that described what happened to them.

    So, yes. I say that I might get “raped” at the mechanic. Or that taxes “raped” me this quarter.

    Being scared of a word to me is pointless.

    And it will take more than a word, taken out of context, to destroy me.

    While I personally find it hard to believe that you have never come across a single person who was offended by the cavalier use of the word rape, I do have to give you the benefit of the doubt; just because it flies in the face of my experience does not mean your experiences have been remotely the same. So: before this clusterfuck, you used the word rape as you saw fit. No one ever said ‘this makes me uncomfortable.’ Fine.

    You post, using it as you see fit; people tell you that they find this hurtful and offensive, to take an emotionally and socially charged word (even if you didn’t realize it) and apply it to something crappy but not even remotely on the same level. They ask you to not do that.

    Where is the homogenous “every rape victim has the same triggers” coming from? Where is this assumption of fear coming from? I am dead serious- I’d like a quote. No snark.

    Because what I’m seeing here is people saying “that word has very specific connotations and using the word outside of those connotations is belitting to a very horrible and painful experience” and you hearing “don’t say that word, it’s scary!”

    I was assaulted. I lived. I am not afraid of the word rape; it is not a trigger of mine. The things that send me into a state of terror and pain are specific to the experience.

    That does not mean I don’t find it offensive to take the word that represents my pain and terror and apply it to overpaying for getting my car fixed. That doesn’t mean I don’t find it belittling when someone’s team loses a game and “they got raped.”

    Words have power. When a person grows up hearing “I got raped by my mechanic, can you believe how much he’s charging me?” and such, how is that person supposed to understand the horror when someone tells them in tears that they were raped, by a stranger or a loved one or someone they trusted? How are they going to have any understanding that doesn’t boil down to the emotional feeling of your team losing badly? By using the word rape in such a cavalier way we diminish the pain of the experience and teach future generations that being sexually assaulted is the same emotional frequency of the government taking more taxes from our paycheck than we’re happy about.

    Tell me in what way is that ma’at?

    • Okay. I’m going to reply with an underline to the points you made that I wanted to comment on. That way, hopefully, we won’t confuse ourselves.

      Are you referring to your planned and discarded entry, here? Because ‘being sorry someone was offended’ and ‘being sorry you offended someone’ are not the same thing.
      Yep. I was going to do the hang-dog thing. It’s that backpedaling people do when they see a black open spance opening up before them and suddenly realize that safety is no longer near. But, I’ve changed that tune. Backpedaling won’t fix anything.

      I also can’t abide people taking the word that encapsulses the worst experience of my life and applying it to being overcharged, or losing a game, or any other experience that sucks to be in but does not hold a fucking candle to being physically violated and mentally traumatized.
      I understand this. And I’m sorry.

      While I personally find it hard to believe that you have never come across a single person who was offended by the cavalier use of the word rape, I do have to give you the benefit of the doubt; just because it flies in the face of my experience does not mean your experiences have been remotely the same. So: before this clusterfuck, you used the word rape as you saw fit. No one ever said ‘this makes me uncomfortable.’ Fine.
      I’m going to quote myself here (on someone else’s post) about this. “I do see that the word, itself, can be painful and harmful. This has never happened in my experience. Both of my best friends were victims, as well, and we all have said the word in a context not associated with what happened to us. But, I see that part now.” This is true of other survivors that I’ve met up with over the years. This is why it shocked me when the fervor went as it did.

      Where is the homogenous “every rape victim has the same triggers” coming from? Where is this assumption of fear coming from? I am dead serious- I’d like a quote. No snark.
      The comments were personal or posted in a previous entry. There were numerous women who stepped forward and pointed out that they were triggered by this word and that they were hurt by my use of it. (I’m thinking specifically of Morag and Stephy on this one.) It never dawned on me that triggers were more than just personal aspects to the assault. Let me say this: the triggers I have are the not the triggers that the Sister or BFTX have mentioned in the past. So to suddenly see people telling me that this one word triggered them (when no one else has ever had before) was startling and unknown. It boggles me, honestly.

      Because what I’m seeing here is people saying “that word has very specific connotations and using the word outside of those connotations is belitting to a very horrible and painful experience” and you hearing “don’t say that word, it’s scary!”
      I’ve explained this. The definitions are more than that experience alone. I can look and see that. You guys think that by using it to describe something else belittles the experience? And I’m terribly sorry you feel that way. I can’t change your view on it and I don’t intend to try. But it’s not the same as what I see or think.

      I was assaulted. I lived. I am not afraid of the word rape; it is not a trigger of mine. The things that send me into a state of terror and pain are specific to the experience.
      As are mine. But, apparently, that’s not always the case. Am I saying that the people who have said, specifically, that the word triggers them don’t have other triggers? No. I have no doubts that they are there or that they have the same effects on them as mine have on me. I was just utterly unaware that the word describing their situation was one of them.

      By using the word rape in such a cavalier way we diminish the pain of the experience and teach future generations that being sexually assaulted is the same emotional frequency of the government taking more taxes from our paycheck than we’re happy about.
      You’ll have to forgive me, but we’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t see it that way. By taking this word and giving it more power than it deserves, I think it serves to show others the power behind it and therefore, the power that they may achieve by doing that. And I’m a rape survivor, true, but I am so many more things. I will not let a word or an experience define who I am because I am so much more than what those people did to me. And so doing, I use the word in its other contexts. And I’m sorry that you don’t understand. But, obviously, I don’t think I can make you understand. And I’m not going to sit here and beat myself up over it.

      I’m sorry you feel this way, Juni. And I am sorry that you, too, have been burdened with sexual violence. And I am sorry that you don’t see what I’m trying to say here. And I’m sorry that this could be the ending of what I thought was a friendship. But, I’m willing to sever the ties, if you so desire, because we will never agree.

  5. You know you didn’t mean to hurt anyone, people were hurt, you apologized for that. If people don’t want to accept that, then that’s not anything you need to analyze about yourself. That’s all about their choices.

    • I think the reason they didn’t like my apology was because I chose to explain why I used the word in question. This seems to have raised the dander, so to speak.

      I have a theory here. The thing is that these people want a villain. I have been chosen for that role. Does it hurt? A little. Does it bother me? No. If I can aid them in working towards whatever it is they so desire by lumping me in with the person in question who did hurt them, then I hope it helps them.

      • Why you did something hurtful is completely irrelevant. What matters is that you stop hurting people.

        You have said explicitly in this post that you do not care to do that.

        When you say straight-up that you are going to continue doing something that many people find hurtful, you are going to get treated like someone who doesn’t give a shit who they hurt. Why? Because that’s who you have said you are.

      • You’re coming across as really… egotistical and self-centered, especially here. Everything that you’ve said on the subject that I’ve been able to read is filled with a lot of “me, myself, and I”. I think you need to take a step back and actually remove yourself from the equation, otherwise what you’re going to take away from this experience will be minimal.

        • All I’m taking away, presently, of this experience is that I cannot have a different opinion from other rape survivors because then I am either wrong, not a true rape survivor, or an awful human being. And also, that maybe, my initial fears about following my goddess were correct.

          That’s about it.

          I’m sorry if I came off as egotistical, but it’s difficult to disassociate myself from the situation.

      • It all comes down to kindness. Were you kind in your apology, were others kind in their response to it? Unfortunately, what could have been an opportunity for dialogue from different perspectives has become an argument of blame. There isn’t blame, there’s only flawed people trying to figure out the world. Hopefully we can figure it out together, instead of against one another.

  6. The only thing I can add to this and what I think Kiya_Nicoll is trying to impart is this: I myself have persons on my Facebook page that I know have been r*ped or s*xually assaulted. When I post things on my FB page or sometimes talk to them on the telephone I am very aware of my audience and purposely do not use certain words when speaking with them or posting on FB.

    As to myself and my immediate circle of friends I know offline, I use those words with no problem as it’s understood among us that it’s okay. In other words I choose my words according to my audience. That doesn’t mean those words have any power over me, but I do recognize they may still exert an influence on others. That I believe is all Kiya is trying to say. you don’t have to change how you view these words, but to simply be aware when posting elsewhere other than your own FB page or blog that these words hold a different meaning for others than what they do for you.

    • I should have said left out “elsewhere other” in the last sentence. My fingers got ahead of my thoughts and I can’t edit the entry.

    • If that’s the case, then more fool her for believing I would purposely poke at such sores. And more fool me for not swearing a blood oath to that effect.

      Can I promise I should never say it again? Not for certain. It may appear in a public venue without me realizing the deed’s been done. But I am no capricious bitch to poke at others’ horrors.

  7. When someone says, “You stepped on my toes,” there’s one correct response: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.” Not “I’m sorry you put your toes there, but you should watch where you put them so they don’t get stepped on” or “I have toes too, and I manage not to get them hurt, so it’s really your weakness because you don’t UNDERSTAND how to get out of the way,” neither of which is an apology for what YOU CHOSE TO SAY and both of which more or less amount to “Fuck you for having toes.” To have you get so defensive about it makes me feel as if you were telling me that I don’t have the right to be triggered by the casual use of a word that, to me, is anything but casual. And that puts a layer of anger over the hurt, because I *do* have the right to feel what I feel, and you don’t get to take that away from me. The casual use of the word “rape” upsets me, whether it’s from another survivor (who, when alerted to the fact that she’s pushing a trigger button, should have had the good sense to know she’s hurting someone and STOP) or from a random person on the street. That is where I am in the healing process, and you don’t get to tell me that’s the wrong place to be.
    If you want to use the word in a casual manner to refer to things that are actually not rape, that’s fine, in private. However, in public, you should be realistic about the fact that such a use may hurt someone, and when you do hurt someone, you should back off and understand that other people’s triggers are not yours to dictate, and that you don’t have the right to push those buttons after being asked to stop. There is no justification for thinking that your right to do whatever you want is more important than someone else’s right not to be hurt. None.
    No one is telling you how to deal with your past. You’re not a “bad survivor” because you aren’t bothered by the word. You’re a bad survivor because now that you’ve been told what triggers someone, you DO IT ANYWAY and have expressed that you will continue to do it anyway. Actually, no, you know what? That’s not being a bad survivor. That’s just being selfish and mean.
    Other people’s triggers are not about you, and they aren’t for you to judge. You don’t get to pick what triggers someone else. If you had just said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you,” instead of trying to justify why you were RIGHT to say it, this whole dust-up would have never happened. Without speaking mindfully, there is no heka; without taking responsibility for your own actions, there is no ma’at.

    • I wasn’t going to reply to this, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided that I would. If I rock the boat even more, so be it.

      At this point, you want to be mad and no matter what anyone says, or how they say it, you aren’t going to stop being mad. She could sit up and say “I’m so sorry for all this hurt I caused you, omg, I am the worst person in the world!” and you would STILL find fault in it. I see nowhere in here where she even mentions anything along the lines of “Well, it’s not MY fault you don’t know how to move your toes!” She said that SHE didn’t honestly KNOW that some people would take it so bad since her own personal experiences have not taught her that using the word rape in it’s other acceptable usages would be extremely offensive/triggering to people. Generally, no one really thinks that A WORD would be a trigger for ANYONE. AND a better response would have been elicited if the person calling her out on it hadn’t been so self righteous and over dramatic in pointing it out to begin with. When faced with someone who chooses to shame you like that publicly, it does tend to get your back up and automatically causes you to try and defend your position.

      I’m sorry you are a survivor. No one should have to go through that. I myself have gone through it twice. But where do you draw the line of over sensitivity? Where do you stop letting words affect you? And when do you stop getting so damn pissed off at ONE person who had NOTHING to do with your initial experience?

  8. I am also a fellow survivor; though apparently I am the only one who can understand what you mean by this: I don’t think I’m a ‘cool’ rape survivor because I can say things without being affected negatively by it. I think I’m healing because of that.”

    Too often survivors of any trial undertaken by their mental health preach the deconstruction of the brick walls around our comfort zones and understanding of reality in order to gain compassion and understanding of other humans, but forget this same lesson when the subject is the cause of their trauma, or a symptom of it manifested within themselves. “Healing,” like you said, is a key word here. People need to stop and think: “Why am I so offended by a fellow victim using one word? Why do I feel the need to attack her when she has already written about how tormented others have made her feel about this same issue, and when I also know how much pain a victim can cause him- or herself, mentally or otherwise?” Healing obviously comes into play here, too: “Am I really as far along the journey towards healing as I think I am, or have I not done much besides wrap those feelings in layers of leather, stuff them into a word, and hide them in the pit of my soul?” Sorry if that’s harsh, but I expect someone who has suffered as much as we have to understand compassion and healing better than others.

    It might not be entirely relevant, but in addition to being a victim of childhood molestation, I am also a member of the third-wave feminist, queer, Pagan, and witchcraft communities, all of which have reclaimed certain words–and three out of four of them the very words with which we now identify ourselves as a community. I don’t think it is insensitive for me to bring this up in this conversation, considering that many of those now reclaimed words (“queer,” “pagan,” “bitch,” “slut,” “cunt”) were previoare intended as grievous insults which caused the recipients at which they were flung deep pain; and while no one is flinging the word “rape” in the same way, I think it would be wise to consider the similarities, and how these words have been reclaimed as a source of pride and inner strength.

    Having said that, I personally only use the term “rape” seriously, and only to refer to either the physical act this whole conversation is about, or in the context of specific disgusting and detrimental human actions towards the Earth. I think the two–the crime by one human against another and the crime by humans against the Earth–are highly comparable in terms of devestation, seriousness, and despicability.

    I don’t say this to add my own comment to any sort of “argument,” merely for the purpose of conversation with a survivor who can take a deep breath and acknowledge or disagree with me on the similarities in the nature of the words in the previous paragraph (in being reclaimed from sources of pain to sources of great strength and solidarity), and humanity’s violation of the Earth (which I think could be a very stimulating conversation among Pagan and otherwise nature-revering survivors who wouldn’t leave their compassion at the door; some seem to be forgetting compassion, like all virtues, works both ways, despite demanding it of the writer of this post).

    Satsekhem, please don’t hurt yourself in any way over this situation. I am sorry that it has drawn a line in the midst of those you previously held as friends, but guilt is nothing you deserve over this. I will agree that a person’s triggers are not for another to judge; however, I don’t see this as what you were doing. In my opinion, you have been very respectful and honest, which is all anyone can hope for in any situation, and the pain felt by others at your use of a word, while perhaps “triggered” by your use of it, is not something you’ve caused them; it is caused by themselves, and their place along their journey to healing. Know that while I might not know your present frustrations and pain, someone at least understands your perspective

    • Sorry for the typo in the last sentence of my third paragraph; it should read like this:

      “I don’t think it is insensitive for me to bring this up in this conversation, considering that many of those now reclaimed words (“queer,” “pagan,” “bitch,” “slut,” “cunt”) were previously and often still are intended as grievous insults which caused the recipients at which they were flung deep pain; and while no one is flinging the word “rape” in the same way, I think it would be wise to consider the similarities, and how these words have been reclaimed as a source of pride and inner strength.”

    • Nice.:) I wonder why its so hard to say “Aubs, I know you didn’t mean to offend but that word is pretty painful to me and I’d like to ask you not to use it so much out of respect.” *Then* ifvahe gets defensive and shitty we can label her someone who doesn’t care, but that’s an unfair label when she was just pummeled in the face on purpose because she accidentally stepped on toes.

  9. Here’s what I’m getting from the situation as a more-or-less outsider:
    > Everything seems to have happened after-the-fact. Both the initial comment and the initial request not to use that word in that context seem to have been made in good faith. You didn’t mean to hurt anybody, they just wanted you not to use ‘rape’ in a non-sexual-assault context; both of those seem fair to me.

    > Some of the language you used in your initial apology is unfortunately also often used by people who are dicks about rape victims (dictionary citation, ‘sensibilities’ and ‘I apologize that you were offended’ vs I apologize for using the word). This doesn’t mean that you were wrong to use that language, or that you meant it in the way that the rapist-apologetics use it.

    > Unfortunately, this looks like the point where everything got out of everyone’s hands, because that kind of language is, for whatever reason, a red flag. Discussions about rape are nervous territory for everyone – you never know when someone’s going to turn out to be a dick – and things sort of fell apart here. It looks like people responded to what *they* believed you were saying, and you felt as though they were responding to what *you* believed you were saying, and behaved appropriately to what that would have meant. And vice versa.

    > After that everyone was just talking at cross-purposes. It doesn’t look like you’re cavalier about using words that you now know can hurt people, and it doesn’t look like they think you’re a Bad Victim for healing in your own way or being okay with the use of the word. It looks like they misunderstood you, and you misunderstood them, and with the topic as heated as it is there were too many hurt feelings and too much anger to slow down, and it all just snowballed to a point where the issues at stake (‘you don’t respect survivors’ vs ‘you don’t respect my individual experience’) don’t really have any relation to the original issues (‘hey please stop’ vs ‘rape means different things’).

    I understand where they’re coming from. (Full disclosure: I’m not okay with casual usage of ‘rape’, though I understand your perspective that it not having any particular power over you is healing.) I also understand why you feel attacked, and that you’re responding to what you feel the content of those attacks is.

    I’d miss you at the Cauldron if you left

  10. Pingback: I am angry. (Trigger Warning) | Morag Spinner

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