#WHYIDIDNTREPORT and How We Dismantle the Patriarchy Through Inner Work
It is so hard to write this… and even harder not to. I need to get this out so that I stop feeling alone in my story and let my stating it publicly release a weight that was never mine to carry. I feel so vulnerable and so on the edge of my courage right now. And inspired by the courage of other women to finally speak plainly about my experience.
I have been reeling for the past 24 hrs… hit so much harder than expected by seeing Kavanaugh doubling down on his lies. The reason I am feeling nauseous, shaking, and surprisingly incapacitated by this last in a long line of shameful patriarchal dramatics is because it hits SO close to home.
Not from attempted rape, thank Goddess, but by the cruel gaslighting, narcissistic manipulations, and violent denial of a woman expressing her truth because her integrity compels her to.
#whyIdidntreport — I was 6 years old, he was my dad, I had no idea it was sexual abuse at the time, I thought it was a bizarre uncomfortable moment that was a blip compared to the painful physical violence I was experiencing on a daily basis.
When the full context of this memory came back to me during a somatic exercise in a psych class when I was 21, I realized “oh fuck… that time when dad had his hand inside my underwear and was asking me if it ‘feels good’ when I was sitting on his fingers (when obviously it felt uncomfortable to sit on fingers, but I was at an age when I read energy louder than words, so I felt how much he wanted me to tell him yes, it feels good,) that wasn’t a mere awkward moment, he was touching my privates.
It was partially burned in my memory because of the weirdness of him asking me if it felt good. It was so incongruous, made zero sense why dad would seem so invested in my feeling good about something that felt awkward and uncomfortable. I remember that us sitting together on the couch with his hand on my butt inside my underwear was a common occurrence. I only have that one memory of the genital fonding, but after I learned about how child predators “groom” children to normalize ever more inappropriate contact, I was like, “oh God, that weird ritual makes sense now.”
I held that memory to myself for 17 years. 17 years during which I coincidentally had a chronic pain condition that had me unable to walk in my 20s, and just barely functional in my 30s.
I didn’t talk about it for the longest time because I thought “is this even sexual abuse? If I didn’t feel acutely emotionally traumatized at the time?” Then I realized, yes it was abuse, and it certainly imprinted me with compliant “good girl” patterning while teaching me to ignore my own guidance and boundaries. But since I felt more traumatized by the physical and emotional abuse rampant in my family (mostly toward me, the only daughter) I tried to bring those subjects up with my parents. Especially when I was in grad school for Integral Counseling Psychology and feeling SO optimistic about the possibility of family healing. I tried my best to create an authentic relationship with my parents, but it never really clicked because they could never relate to me as a full sovereign person, so we kept it pretty superficial for many years.
Having had little success with trying to talk about the physical and emotional abuse — the best I got from them was basically “ok we were stressed out then, can’t we please move on now?” — I had little reason to be optimistic about an authentic connection while talking about the sexual abuse. But it was bugging me in the back of my mind as I felt I was out of integrity with my soul by just pretending along with my dad that it never happened. During summer solstice of 2016, I committing to myself to find a way to bring my body back to full health, the kind of health I had not known since I was 21 years old. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I felt a distinct shift in me as I aligned with that commitment.
I really got it that my body was SACRED and it was no longer resonant for me to pretend otherwise, even if the family system was demanding I conform to that lie. I thought, if I had a 6 year old daughter and she was touched inappropriately I would never think “oh but let’s not mention that to the perpetrator because he probably won’t have a great response and might feel very uncomfortable.” His emotional immaturity is not my responsibility. My protecting of my boundaries is.
So this is the part where watching Kavanaugh lying and the entire patriarchal farce demean and disrespect his accusers really got to me…
And when I read last night about the concept of DARVO (Deny, Accuse, Reverse Victim and Offender) I cried and also breathed a sigh of relief. DARVO is a common response in these kinds of cases, and exactly what I experienced that felt shockingly low, even for my parents.
When I called my dad to tell him I had to speak to him about something because I was afraid that holding it in was making me sick, I wasn’t expecting some amazingly conscious response (though my optimistic heart did hold the possibility for actual healing, I was expecting more the usual minimizing and defending) but I was shocked by the cold-hearted vehement denial. It was so sad… him choosing to defend his ego over actually relating to his daughter as a person.
He and my mom both said I was hallucinating and accused me of being on drugs. I later got an email from my mom saying I had “hurt my father so much” and to, I kid you not, “stop abusing them”.
They accused me of making it all up. I told them this is the LAST thing I would ever want to think about my dad. People don’t make this stuff up!! Speaking up about something like this is usually only done when we reach the “I can’t live with myself if I don’t say something” point. This disclosure is not entered into lightly.
Some people know that I have had no contact with my parents for over 2 years. This is why.
I can’t even begin to express how painful it feels to get this kind of extreme gaslighting response to sharing something so vulnerable. There’s the initial pain of the trauma, which for me was felt mostly as sadness after I realized at 21 how little my father respected me, and then that different kind of pain that comes from being disconnected from my full power by being energetically trained to be obliging and not have boundaries. But this… it is such a punch in the gut to be aggressively told you are lying, that you shouldn’t believe your own senses, after summoning up heaps of courage just to honestly confront your perpetrator, and with a heart ready to forgive.
That simple, innocent place in my heart thinks, “why behave in some way that you would violently defend being known openly?? How can a person sleep at night with that lack of integrity??” And yet this world, and especially the political leadership and circuits of power, seem to be full of people like this.
As I’ve been reeling over the Kavanaugh drama and asking myself, “How can I show up for the kind of world I want? A world that fully values women as sovereign beings?” The answer that came was to check my own alignment: What imprints am I still carrying? What corners of my own mind and heart have not yet been fully decolonized from the patriarchy? And what felt resoundingly true was to add my voice to the chorus of women’s voices right now.
Because we don’t have to carry this shit alone.
Because we are allowed to take up space by telling our stories.
Because something happened that was fucking intense and crazy and by giving it my attention and writing and saying “hey, this was fucking intense and crazy!” I am taking an energetic stance for a just and free and honorable society that doesn’t brush this under the rug but rather takes note of an outlier than needs attention.
I know the power of these energetic stances for manifesting what we want. The courage of women speaking up in the #metoo movement has already shifted the center of our collective consciousness. If all humans were living from that place of alignment inside where they just *knew* that you don’t violate another being’s personal space, rape culture and abuse of this sort just wouldn’t occur, it wouldn’t be able to get a foothold in the person’s psyche.
And this is how we dismantle the patriarchy for good. Starting with decolonizing our own minds.
Even now… as my body is screaming GET THIS OUT, SPEAK YOUR TRUTH… I still feel that old programming of family loyalty playing in the background… “why be so public and open? can’t you just tell your close friends? what are you hoping to gain from this?”
The truth is I am hoping simply to release myself from an unhealthy dynamic where I’ve taken on all the emotional responsibility in my family. Martyred myself energetically holding onto all this rather than letting that energy disperse back into the family system to be integrated in an honorable way. I’ve studied family constellations, I know that trying to take on another person’s karma out of misguided love never succeeds at healing the family system.
This might cause shockwaves. Some people might feel uncomfortable reading this. And I am declaring out loud, both for myself, and for any dear sisters who are dealing with any similar dynamics of narcissistic abuse in their families, that anybody’s discomfort over being confronted with the truth is NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY.
My true responsibility, which I am RECOMMITTING DEEPLY to right now, is to make sure that I am showing up for my life force, that I am showing up for my soul’s path, that I am remembering that I and I alone have the power to tap myself into or out of source energy. It is up to *me* to ensure my flow of life force is not being drained or siphoned away by energetically caretaking another person’s immaturity or fragility.
So mote it be.