I was just three years of age where I remember my first panic situation. I was in a cot in my room. Wrapped in my blanket that had a clown embroidered on it, a toddler is meant to feel secure in sleeping in a cot. However, for some reason this night always makes me tremble each time I try to bring the suppressed memory to the surface. My gland on my neck start to burn, my hands go clammy and the anxiety that comes with it often leaves me frazzled. The blanket was placed over my head with many bodies above me. Then my memory stops there, leaving me feeling blank. Whether it was innocent or whether it goes as deep as the trauma I feel, it's one thing that I will always ponder for the rest of my life. Its one thing that will always make me feel unsafe, that will always make my body feel unsettled and it will always be a memory I am scared to dig deeper into.
When I was fourteen years of age, my mother sent my sister and me to a school camp. The discovery of boys never seems to phase me. Perhaps could explain my sexuality and finding myself in years to come. One person was the tennis coach at the camp who was in charge. He seemed kind from face value, often giving me attention due to seeing how passionate I was when it came to playing a sport. We all were in the spa where he sat next to me. Five minutes later, I was running to the toilets as I started to have a panic attack. I left the camp feeling numb and that it was my fault. That it was okay because I must have given off gestures that I wanted him to touch me the way he did. It took me two days to tell my own Mother because of the shame that came with the non-consensual action against me at a sporting camp.
My stories aren't even the depth of what else I have experienced, and to be mindful I choose not to share it with everyone for safety reasons (triggering, painful for me, trauma). Even though I have chosen to not go into explicit detail, people seem to still have the audacity to invalidate people's own traumatic experiences. If it's too emotionally taxing, it can be dismissed. We are made to be silent for other peoples own 'comfortable'. People can avoid accountability for their own insecurities. However, avoiding accountability can be tolling for someone who was on the receiving end of these non-consensual acts.
So who can we blame for these acts where people seem to not be aware of people's boundaries? I firmly believe boundaries are crossed for lessons of growth and for own self-development. I have crossed boundaries in my past due to not being as self-aware as I thought I was. Can we blame people who cross continuous boundaries on their own pasts? On them not being self-aware? Or can we blame society for the way they define, box and label nearly every living thing under the sun. The conformity.
When it comes to sexual misconduct and sexual assault, there are the grey areas of the things I listed above. However, I am a firm believer people can change. I believe we also put enough education forward for this to not even occur in the first place. So why does it occur even when the person believes they are doing the right things? The logically list off all the things in their heads then find themselves in the most vulnerable terrifying situations. So I ask the question, why does this keep happening?
I will give you a few thought-provoking ideas. Firstly, when someone crosses a boundary and hurts you, its to do with them. You may have done everything logically correct to avoid a situation, however, the other person who projects this mistreatment towards you has a different perspective of your own. I in no way am invalidating the hurt I suffered, it still plays on my mind the experiences I have had. However, to reduce my own suffering, I have to radically accept that not everyone on this planet is mindful and consciousnesses. Not everyone is going to be aware in the very present moment. These arent excuses either, its a very dialectical way to think of pain.
Do I believe there are bad people in this world? Sure, only to an extent. I think everyone is capable of hurting someone else in one way or another. I know I would have hurt people in my past. But I also believe its due to awareness in social situations. When I was younger, I didn't know how to set boundaries for myself. So it was easier for me to unaware cross others boundaries. Whether it be friendships, relationships and so forth. I think a great testament to the human condition is what you do with your actions after you have messed up. Please know I am aware that there are people out there who constantly repeat their own actions. However, with the right help that they need, I believe that they could change. People can be beyond help. But I believe every person is capable of change. It comes down to willingness. If they are willing to put in the hard yards.
Lastly, silencing people and victim shaming them is only escalating the problem we have at the start. The perpetrator always seems to blame the victim to gain control. The control most times would be driven by guilt, shame, anger and despair. We all are also capable of feeling these emotions. We just feel them in our own interpretations. So my anger will feel differently to the man sitting on the train next to me's anger. This then results in people projecting it in other ways. Some ways that are damaging and that can really impact the lives of other people. Some ways can be minimal. Depends on the situation and life experiences that you have.
The only way forward is being able to openly express your own truths and to be heard by people who can also be the voice of change. We live in a world where everyone is going to be set in their own truths and opinions. I think that is something that is beyond control. My point is we cannot assume people are 'making up' there #metoo stories and the whole movement of females coming forward to share their horrifying experiences. The only horrifying thing about this all is the truths that are screaming so loudly that some people who find it confronting do not know how to handle it. Confrontation is asking you something about yourself and really challenging you to listen to your intuition. So if you are reading this and you've hurt someone, be accountable moving forward. We are the voices for change, so start listening.