Today I want to talk about families. I have already talked a little bit about mine but I'd like to go into more detail. I don't know if most of my family knew what had happened or if they didn't. Or maybe they knew but didn't really know what to say when they saw me. It was really hard not knowing how my family felt or if they even knew. Rape isn't really something that has been the topic of conversation at the thanksgiving dinner table, but I think I was in such a bad place at the time I was almost looking for someone, other than my mother, to tell me I was doing the right thing. To make me feel like what I was doing was worth it.
I don't blame any of my family, and if your reading this please don't take it that way. I'm using myself as an example so everyone can see how it really affects you to not have people around you who know how to deal with rape. Now, after Maryville, everyone is talking about it. But two years ago, no one knew how. It wasn't a bandwagon that everyone jumped on to. It was silenced and eyes were closed to the idea of it, let alone talking openly about it. I didn't help. As a victim myself, I didn't even know how to talk. So, when no one knows how to talk about rape, no hands can be held and no help can be given.
Since I have opened up, so has my family. It's a team effort. Now, I'm surround with support. It feels pretty amazing to hear all my loved ones tell me how proud they are of me for speaking up. I just needed to drop down my guard so they could see that it was okay to talk to me about what happened. Basically I'm saying that being open and staying open is extremely important. But, some girls can't open up as much as I have. That's when others really need to step in.
I've had a lot of girls tell me their stories when they haven't even felt comfortable enough to tell their parents or their best friends, because I am a stranger. I won't judge them because I don't know them. I think as human beings we should be better than to make our daughters, our family members, and our friends feel more comfortable talking to a stranger than to us. All I can hope for is that this topic doesn't die down when the headlines stop. It deserves more than that, and so do the survivors.
Now, I want to talk about the other side of the line. The rapists families. They hurt a lot more than anyone can see I'm sure. As for my experience, I know it hurt me to watch his family go through what we were all dealing with. When it was time for him to be sentenced I had to leave the court room for a while to collect myself. I knew whatever was about to happen was going to not only effect me and my family, but his as well. Even when they were defending their son. I had to remind myself that they didn't want to be in this situation anymore than I wanted to. My mom felt like she had lost her daughter out of all that happened, and I'm sure that they felt like they had lost their son.
It is heartbreaking to see all the lives that are effected by rape. The only way to stop it from ruining a person is to talk to the people around you. We have to remind our loved ones that our support systems are strong. If you cannot bring yourself to talk openly about rape you can still help. It doesn't take words to hold a hand or give a hug. Do what you can, that's all that counts.