Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Importance of Speaking Out

Written by: Fenna Vlekke

When I decided to start this blog about sexual and domestic violence, I was terrified. I’ve always been someone who mostly kept things to herself, so starting a public blog, using my real name, was a big step. When I posted my first article, I felt scared and empowered at the same time. I still have times that I think I’ve gone too far, that I want to go back to secrecy. Sometimes I also feel guilty, because I feel like I'm throwing this ugliness in people’s faces. But most of the time, it makes me feel strong. I’m taking my power back and I will not feel ashamed or silenced by my past ever again. 

The power of silence
A lot of survivors feel ashamed about what happened to them and because of that they have a very negative self-image. I have felt a lot of shame over the years myself. In fact, because of it, I wasn’t able to share my experiences with anyone. I felt like the person who raped me was also the person who got closer to me than anyone ever would. My body felt tainted. I also felt alienated. It felt like I was the only one who had gone through something like this, because nobody talked about it. It almost seemed like there was a silent agreement that this subject should never be discussed. Because there was such a silence surrounding it, my feelings of being ashamed and alienated could never be challenged. I could never have someone tell me I wasn’t to blame, or that they understood my struggles. I felt like a part of me could never come to the surface, that it should remain hidden at all cost.

The power of speaking out
I know I make a lot of people uncomfortable by being so forthcoming about what happened to me. I know they don’t want to deal with these awful things on a regular basis. Some people have asked me if I, by writing this blog, hold on to my past too much. But what they don’t understand is that being raped will have an influence on you one way or another for the rest of your life. And speaking out is such a liberating, shame-lifting experience that I finally feel free. I don't have to keep part of me a secret anymore, and I know now I'm not alone. Just like people can talk about losing a loved one, or having been in an accident, I should be able to share my experiences. Remaining silent about them only makes me feel alienated. Just like everybody else’s story, my story can and should be told, even if people sometimes find it difficult to hear.


By speaking out about being raped, I’m telling the world I shouldn’t be the one feeling ashamed. I’ve started this blog without sugar coating anything, and without using a fake name. I’m standing here, being vulnerable and feeling naked, because it wasn’t my fault. I hope other survivors will find the strength to speak out too. I also hope this blog makes them feel less alone and less ashamed. We should get rid of a society that feels like subjects as rape are too heavy to deal with. For me, they’re heavy, but a reality, and if there’s ever going to be change, nobody should be able to pretend they don’t exist. The most powerful tool I have is my voice, and I will let it be heard.

Written by: Fenna Vlekke


8 comments:

  1. Thanks, Fen, great job! Really admire you for speaking up and freeing yourself and others this way! One thing (among many) that caught my attention was "I still have times that I think I’ve gone too far", do you know why? I wonder how you can go to far by speaking the truth. Cheers&big hug, N

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    1. Hi Nar, thank you for your comment and support :). The reason why I sometimes feel like I've gone too far, is because I've heard of people thinking my blog and the subjects I write about are too heavy. They don't want to be confronted by them. I know I have this blog specifically to challenge those attitutes, but it's still quite difficult sometimes, because I don't really want to make people uncomfortable. That's one of the reasons why I made this post. Just to explain why I still choose to make people feel that way :).

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    2. Excellent! With you all the way! I see it this way: you don't make people feel uncomfortable by making them realise the truth.... it's the facts that make them feel uncomfortable... denying them only helps it to go on.... once we acknowledge something we can start doing something about it... if we run away for it, it continues more or less unchanged... so there....

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  2. Thank you Fen for sharing and being so inspirational! I was reading something else about the topic, truth, and how like a lion, it doesn't need to be defended. And that's how it can be, for us as survivors, we're telling the truth about what's been done to us. Thanks for leading the way.

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    1. That's a nice analogy, I like it :). And you're right, the truth doesn't need to be defended. Thank you for your support, it means a lot!

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  3. Fen, i'm so glad that you've found your voice and have spoken up.
    i hope that this will help to inspire other victims in speaking up and out

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  4. This is a great piece and sums up exactly how I feel about speaking out. I believe speaking out is really the only way to fully freeing yourself from the shame that can eat you alive. Like you, I worry that I am talking too much about heavy things or focusing on heavy things but it's reality and it's my life and it did happen. What Nardo said was beautiful: you don't make people feel uncomfortable by making them realise the truth.... it's the facts that make them feel uncomfortable... denying them only helps it to go on. There is no shame in speaking the truth and trying to make positive change, especially in an area that evokes so much fear.

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