Sexual Violence Lasts Far Longer Than The Act

The trauma of sexual assault doesn't end with the attack. Learn more on bettysbattleground.com

I am shocked when I hear people telling sexual assault survivors to “just get over it.”

I don’t understand how someone can categorize sexual assault as a singular act; as though it is just the event that happened without any further reach. Because nothing that has to do with sex is a singular, inconsequential event. Our society, and frankly our biology, has made sure of that. When the sexual event is violent–and by violent I mean non-consensual, not just forceful–it is a violation of our bodily autonomy. That alone is bad enough, but for women it is much more complicated.

This world is so confused about how it feels about female sexuality. Female sexuality is at once a symbol of purity and rejuvenation, while also a source of sin, temptation, and destruction. Historically (and even today in some especially draconian parts of the world) women and girls have been killed for being raped, their value so diminished by the symbolic theft of their purity they are believed to no longer deserve to want to live. Even where these practices are no longer in place, we are still bound to that history. Sexual violation becomes a way of robbing women and girls not just of autonomy for a moment in time, but also of worth for her lifetime–at least that is the intended effect. This is why wartime rape is so prevalent; women’s bodies are more than just bodies. They are symbols.

As much as we try, our bodies can’t just be our own.

Beyond the psycho-social implications of male-female sexual violence, there is also the biological dangers that accompany rape–pregnancy, which has been politicized due to the abortion debate; disease, which takes months to detect, so that even rape victims who walk away biologically unscathed must go through a period of anxiety. Often there are other injuries that can take weeks or months to heal; especially rough attacks can lead to chronic pain. Even in instances where there is no physical injury whatsoever, however, the psychological pain persists.

Sexual assault has such a long legacy of torment and shame in our culture that I truly cannot understand how anyone with half a brain could ever tell someone to “just get over it.” But they do. It happens.

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Why You Should Forgive Your Friends And Heroes Who Commit Suicide

Get insight into suicide from someone who's been there-on bettysbattleground.com

Suicide recently came into the public consciousness because of the death by hanging of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington. Whenever I hear about someone dying from hanging, I think about this kindhearted, sweet as hell, alcoholic teenage gutter punk I knew who hanged himself. The last time I saw him, I was in a van going to the Oregon Country Fair. I saw him walking outside on the side of the road. We lived in Seattle so this wasn’t expected. I considered asking the driver to stop so I could say hi to my friend, but then I figured–and I remember this thought so clearly–“Oh well, it’s okay, I’ll see him again.” I didn’t.

We never know when we will lose the people we love. Whether by suicide or something else, our lives are these tenuous, crazy things that can be shattered without a moment’s notice. We need to better appreciate the people in our lives, but we also need to forgive those who leave us on purpose. I’ve written this post to help you understand why you should let go of the anger you feel at your loved one who committed suicide, even though that anger is totally justified.

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The Suicide Survivor’s Guide: 3 Ways to Recognize Suicidal Behavior, and How You Can Help

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It has been a heavy week on Betty’s Battleground.

Last Wednesday I posted the letter I didn’t write when I attempted suicide on my birthday last year.

On Monday, I kicked off my guest post series “Tales From the Other Side” with a beautiful and heartbreaking letter written to the sister Connie Hulsart, from the blog Essentially Broken, lost to suicide.

I know, this blog has not been the easiest to read this past week. Nor the easiest to publish, believe me. But it is important to understand suicide. The mentality behind it, which I showcased in my letter; the complex effects and aftermath, which Connie demonstrated with grace and raw honesty in hers, and also how to recognize suicidal behaviors in others and what to do about it.

Suicide is very serious. It is the 10th leading cause of the death in the United States, and, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are twenty-five more attempts for every single completed suicide. And that’s just what’s reported. We have no way of quantifying the attempts, completed suicides, and ideations that occur unreported or unrecognized. According to the World Health Organization, over 800,000 people die from suicide each year. It is approximated that someone, somewhere on the planet, completes a suicide every 40 seconds.

Let that sink in.

Every 40 seconds.  That means that in the time you have been reading this, at least one person has died by his own hand.

Suicide merits understanding.

I am not a psychological expert. I cannot replace the advice of professionals. But I have been there. Many, many times. My most serious attempt was in 2016, but it was not my first. Besides my other attempts, I have considered suicide on numerous occasions. I have spent years in a suicidal state, mostly due to my PTSD.  I am going to wrap up what has become “Suicide Week” on Betty’s Battleground with a Suicide Survivor’s Guide to Recognizing Suicidal Behavior, and some suggestions on how to help. Some of these are research based; many are based on my experiences with being suicidal.  As I said, I cannot replace the advice and opinion of a psychological expert. If you believe that you or someone you know is suicidal, it is a good idea to talk to a professional. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. In my opinion, it is always beneficial to combine the knowledge of experts with the knowledge of experience, so here is what I have learned from being suicidal:

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