While champagne toasts were being made in half the homes in America this past week, many sexual abuse survivors were experiencing bubbles in a very different way.
Let me be clear. This post is not about one candidate versus the other. It's about what I've experienced—as well as others in my circle—as a survivor this week.
I was truly surprised by how much I was triggered by the outcome. I didn't expect it but it came in as one very large, thick, heavy bubble of grief, rising to the surface. I know, as a highly sensitive person, I was feeling my own sadness as well as the sadness of the collective. With that said, as a woman who's been through bankruptcy, job loss, and the inability to afford health insurance, I completely understand wanting change. Revolution. Fix what hasn't been working. I get all of that and I respect Americans wanting a better future.
As a survivor, I felt violated....again. Maybe it was the never ending loop of election ads on TV, but I kept hearing a mash-up of the Access Hollywood audio over and over again in my head. "Grab her by the pussy" looped in my mind. Typewriter text from the stories about women who experienced our new President-elect as a sexual predator scrolled behind my eyes like the opening scene of Star Wars. Mainly, I thought about how, for the next four years, I will have to see my president in an equivalent form to my abuser.
A friend of mine who is a therapist told me her clients who are sexual abuse survivors are booking appointments with her left and right in order to help cope with the feelings bubbling up. I've heard multiple survivors say they felt like they were raped again, not just by the results but the knowledge that some of their strong, smart, compassionate female friends voted for Trump, a known sexual predator. As women, we naturally think that our sisters couldn't possibly condone that kind of behavior and i'm sure the women who voted for Trump do not; however, they still said "yes" to putting a man at the helm of the free world who has shown his true colors regarding women. To many survivors, it just felt like a big fat slap in the face.
I'm finding it's a process and by owning and honoring the pain, healing is happening. Feelings coming from deep within are surfacing for many who haven't fully looked their abuse in the eye. Women from all over the country are reaching out to one another for support, providing life jackets for bobbing in this first wave of post-election pain. For that, I am so grateful. We're coming together in ways we haven't in the past. Sexual abuse is such a taboo topic but a HUGE light is shining on it right now and we all know only light can defeat dark.
I certainly don't have all the answers and I'm coming to grips with my feelings one bubble at time, but I will say overall, I am even more determined to use my voice to help stop the perpetuation of our country's rape culture. If we don't do it, who will?
If you are a survivor and want to share your feelings with me privately, please feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can always post an anonymous comment.