A patient of mine sadly told me that she didn’t know a woman who wouldn’t chime in with “MeToo”, an acknowledgment of either being sexually harassed or abused. She herself had had numerous violating encounters on the New York subway, and had been on a swim team as a teenager in which it came out later that the coach had been a predator of many of her teammates. The coach was successful in molesting in the way that many are: by keeping it secret and inferring a private connection with each girl, along with veiled threats of social shaming or team demotion if anything was made public. The authority figure who was once
The authority figure who was once revered and trusted now brought an overwhelming amount of emotional havoc and massive confusion and fear. The power difference between them was substantial and reinforced the code of silence and produced feelings of helplessness. It also bred shame. Shame for somehow being involved in this violation, for somehow not having the wherewithal at the time to stop it. Often the victim feels that in some way she had invited the violation. Perhaps this is the psyche’s attempt at feeling some amount of control in a helpless situation; it also sows the seeds of toxic inner shame.
Finding one’s voice is critical in the process of healing. Individual therapy is a place where confronting these confusing and painful experiences can lead to releasing the shame and carving a path towards freedom and growth. Continuing to carry the effects of abuse by keeping the silence preserves shame.
Here at VCCC we believe that these abuses and traumas don’t need to define you. Speaking out is the start. We offer a safe and confidential place to begin this process.
By Dr. Callae Walcott-Rounds