*Trigger Warning For sexual Violence*
For music Mondays, I usually have songs that are uplifting, the kind you’d play as you’re getting ready in the morning or working out, or going out for the night. This song on the other hand, will either make you feel hopeful or leave you feeling sad, or maybe even both. But I know it’s a song we all need to hear.
Lady Gaga’s new song takes on sexual assault in a different light, this time talking about the ways in which we respond to survivors even with our best intentions. The first sentences in the song say,
“you tell me it gets better, in time.
You tell me pull myself together,
pull it together, you’ll be fine
but tell me what the hell do you know? “
If you’ve ever had someone share their story of sexual assault with you, it’s likely that this is something you’ve told them. “it gets better, time heals all wounds, things of the sorts. While you most certainly mean well and probably don’t know how to react to such news, it isn’t very helpful to tell the person that they need to pull it together because it invalidates the pain of surviving sexual assault.
If you don’t know how to be there for someone who shared their sexual violence story with you it is often much better to ask what do you need? How can I help? Or be honest and say, I don’t know what to say. Because sometimes you don’t really need to say anything except sit there with them, and listen. RAINN which is the national network for sexual abuse, suggests saying things like,
“I believe you”: It can be extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed.
“I’m so sorry this happened to you” : to communicate empathy
“It’s not your fault”: Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally.
“This doesn’t change how I think of you”: Some survivors are concerned that sharing what happened will change the way other people see them, especially a partner
“You are not alone”: Remind the survivor that you are there for them and willing to listen to their story.
Maybe in the future, you can try and create the space for them to do their own healing by driving them if they need to go to the hospital, support them if they want to press charges against the perpetrator (OR NOT), and be there when they try to get counseling. Be prepared that you will not always like the choices they make for their own healing, be prepared to give your opinion and they take another option, be prepared to be confused and feel helpless as you watch your friend be in pain and there is not much you can do.
“Because you don’t know until you walk in my shoes.
Till It happens to you, you don’t know how it feels”.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.