I spoke with my mother this morning, and she has some concerns about this blog. She doesn’t want me to make myself vulnerable to others, which is understandable–I am scared of that also–but at the same time, I don’t feel I can be silent any longer. My struggle for justice has not been the exception. It has been the rule. When I was speaking with a representative from the Victim’s Assistance Program, I said “It just makes me feel hopeless about being a woman in West Virginia.”
She sighed, then said. “You’re right. And it’s not just the women in Mon County. It’s all of our victims. Many of them don’t get the justice they deserve.”
In an open letter for the New York Times, Dylan Farrow writes about a similar frustration. She also writes, “But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.”
Her letter came at just the right time for me–a time when I was questioning whether I should persist with this blog, but I’m inspired by Farrow. Yesterday, after I posted my blog, so many people reached out to me. It was difficult in ways. I hadn’t properly prepared myself to hear so many painful stories. I cried this morning for a long time, but reading this letter today reinforced to me the importance of not being silenced, and if at some point, I find that it’s too difficult for me to chronicle these journeys, then I’ll give myself a break.
But for now, I already have a guest post from an amazing woman who found my blog yesterday, and I will be posting it tomorrow. It shows the incredible resilience and power of a woman in the aftermath of domestic violence, and I am honored that she has chosen to share it here.
I’d also like to recommend Farrow’s letter, which shows that this injustice isn’t something unique to West Virginia. It’s everywhere.
And an excerpt:
“When I asked my mother if her dad did to her what Woody Allen did to me, I honestly did not know the answer. I also didn’t know the firestorm it would trigger. I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me. I didn’t know that he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me. I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand. At one point, my mother sat me down and told me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I was lying – that I could take it all back. I couldn’t. It was all true. But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child.”