Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. – Stephen Hawking
I’m surprised by the helpfulness of couples therapy with M and our new therapist. I’m delighted the therapist sees us both as human and doesn’t automatically disbelieve everything I say because I have a black vagina. She hasn’t shamed me for talking about my abuse. She informed me it’s far more common than I ever imagined, and my experience isn’t unusual by any stretch.
It allowed me to recall the fact that during one of my hospitalizations at the VA, there was another woman whose spouse was torturing her. We also both resided in the same town with a population of around 10k. I hate knowing that torturing people is a common practice in American households. At the same time, I’m glad my experience isn’t unique. (It feels too heavy to carry alone.)
I did also note that while we had the same catalyst in crisis, skin color had a tremendous effect on our treatment at the Sioux Falls VA. The doctors and other staff believed her automatically. They could empathize with someone who looked like them. I was silenced, shamed, and told I was no longer welcome at the facility. Later, they backpedaled through snail mail, labeling it confidential, and assuring me I was (now?) allowed at the VA hospital for mental health care. (I didn’t fall for it again. I’m still black. Duh.)
If rape and torture is part of your story, too, please know you’re not alone. There are therapists out there who recognize this is a serious problem and want to help us while we heal. No human deserves physical or psychological torture. It’s horrific behavior perpetrated by predators. Predators choose to act out their rage on the living by harming them, dehumanizing them, gaslighting them, and robbing them of free will.
For a long time, I fantasized about revenge scenarios against all rapists and torturers. I wanted them all to cease existing immediately. I still do. I just don’t waste time imagining how I can help hurry up the inevitable. Every single one of them is going to die—fucking yay. I don’t have to give a shit when or how. I see them as unevolved failures. They can’t even coexist within their species without deliberately harming others.
I’ve heard people say things like, hurt people hurt people, often accompanied by performative empathy. 🤮 Hurt people include every person on the planet. However, every single person on this planet does not commit rape and torture. We don’t all go around treating people like they don’t matter and only exist to satisfy our basest urges. Most of us are decent. Attaching the hurt one has suffered to their potential to harm others is basic shaming.
It’s telling abuse survivors, you’re less capable of healing, less likely to remain a decent person, and more likely to become a predator now than before you were hurt. It’s claiming predatory behavior is contagious. It’s not critical thinking; it’s an alarming lack of empathy. Words mean things. I don’t have control over what predators do to me. I have total control over how I treat people. My suffering did not diminish my humanity.
I don’t care about some people on this planet. I also know my feelings don’t give me the right to hurt others. I know rape and torture are horrible crimes, and nothing that ever happened to me entices me to take it up as a hobby. I will fight to protect myself and others from being harmed. I won’t create victims because I’m angry. I won’t punish those who are weaker than me because I don’t get my way.
I evolved beyond the emotional capacity of a toddler. I understand I’m not the center of the universe. I recognize my actions can hurt others, and police them accordingly. I possess the ability to apologize when I step on someone because I understand they have feelings. I honor free will in others. I’m not trying to force the world to change to suit me. I’m trying to adapt to the world as is, and simultaneously find purpose, joy, laughter, etc.
Beating someone up doesn’t make you tough; it exposes your weakness. Weak people harm others habitually and think it makes them dominant. In reality, it makes them pathetic. People who survive the violent tantrums perpetrated by emotional toddlers get to choose who they’ll become in the aftermath. Nobody else does. 💜✌🏽