When Your Personal Sexual Assault Narrative Is No Longer Your Own
by James Landrith
During the #metoo disclosures of recent months, many people have bravely told their stories publicly. There are huge positives that can come from a public disclosure such as hearing from friends or family who know what you’ve been through as they’ve experienced it themselves. Then, feeling that you’ve finally ripped the bandage off a wound that wasn’t healing properly and needed fresh air. It makes sense and can be healing for some people.
The downsides are also many. Aside from the obvious trolls, abusers, low information troglodytes, and general pieces of shit all over the place, you can also quickly lose control of your own narrative. People will hijack an interesting or unusual disclosure for their own purposes and you have little recourse other than dealing with it. I’ve learned to deal over the years. Accepting that it happens and that you also have little control over that is not the same as approval. I’ve even learned to deal with people gaslighting to your face by denying it happens. (ahem)
It helps if you can publicly say “fuck you” now and then too.
While looking up some references for a speaking engagement in April (planning ahead), I was reminded of this ridiculous bullshit from 2014.
A Michigan attorney named Shannon Smith co-opted my experience to use as a marketing tool to solicit business from female rapists. Seriously.
This is real life and I caution anyone making a public disclosure to not go about it lightly or expect that all of the same people who say they have your back today will necessarily be there when the trolls, troglodytes and opportunists come out of the woodwork. Some will even scoff and tell you it doesn’t happen while calling themselves an ally. They are “woke” this week. Next week, they are completely oblivious, or worse — complicit. You will figure out over time who is real and who is just running their mouth by watching what they do vs. what they say.
Anyway. This is real life and assholes are everywhere. You can’t control it, but you can help by calling it what it is and not trivializing it — especially if you aren’t on the receiving end yourself.