I’m not entirely sure how to do this. It is quite possible you are about to read the most uncomfortable thing I have ever written for public consumption. It is very personal and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed about it.
I’ve managed to accomplish lots of unexpected things as an activist. I set out just wanting to help others and educate them, but I somehow managed to reach more people than I ever thought I could. Now, I’m realizing how much I can accomplish because of that. But, there’s a barrier, here. For the sake of my safety and the safety of my family, I never told my complete story. It is scary to talk about and the potential danger is intimidating. I did tell most of my story when I did the interviews on Reality Check, with Dave Fletcher and his wife (1 and 2).
But I left out a fairly important fact, trying to hold to my rule of not talking about something I felt could be dangerous. I didn’t talk about getting pregnant. In the wake of the GOP’s anti-woman, rape denialist bullshit, I did tell the other part of my story, but I asked my friend, Ed Brayton, not to put my name on it when he posted it on his blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars.
I was a victim of a violent sexual assault that got me pregnant, which led to me getting married to someone I barely knew in a kind of family drama that I wish weren’t so common in this country.
During my marriage, I had another child. I have two kids.
In many of the things I’m working on now, talking about these events could be helpful, and I hope to use my experience to educate others. I don’t want this to be made into a big deal. I’ve seen other people suffer from coming out with personal stories and I don’t want that to happen, here.
All I want is to be able to openly discuss those topics where I think I can do the most good and having the ability to openly talk about my experience is a part of that.
This part, though, is terrifying, to me. I worry about what will be asked of me. I worry about becoming the target of harsh criticism for what happened to me, as have other victims who have come out. I worry about people’s accusations.
I’m not ready to talk about my children or to go any farther than just letting people know I have them and that my experiences are an important part of things that I do and work on. So please don’t ask.
I am willing to talk about my experience as a victim of rape, but please be patient, this is not easy. I have been quite capable of talking about it when I’m with people I know, and I’ve used the experience to help me with things ranging from counseling to educating others, but I haven’t got much experience talking about it in great detail to lots of people.
I also have experience as someone who has a common mental illness: PTSD. I am familiar with mental illness as something that happens to the brain, sometimes as a natural consequence to events. Much like extreme impacts during accidents can lead to broken limbs and other body parts, extreme conditions can affect the brain, and mental illness is a normal consequence of that.
I also have plans to talk about pregnancy and child development. I know these subjects very well, partly because I was super-focused when I got pregnant and I read lots and lots of texts on the subject. Hiding that part of my life has made it nearly impossible to participate in discussions where I could have really helped people. I studied behavioral science, I studied child development, I am familiar with both successful and unsuccessful parenting strategies that have been taught in classes and I’m so familiar with the topic of childbirth, I found that the required reading for most doula courses is significantly less than what I’ve already read and I’ve already attended more births than most courses require for certification.
I know this post is extremely disorganized. I want to get it out of my system before I get scared again. Well, I’m already somewhat scared, but I don’t want to get so scared that I change my mind. Perfection isn’t my goal, here.
So, to recap. I have two kids. I have some extreme and upsetting life experiences. I want to use these experiences to help me with my activist work, so I now want to be more open about it. I don’t want it to become some dramatic thing.
I hope this doesn’t change how people treat me.