July 31, 2019
By Patricia Ullman
The other day I was talking with a friend about the sexual abuse in my former spiritual community, and she said that she didn’t think so-and-so was doing any favors for those trying to make their voices heard because so-and-so was going on and on and, in effect, ranting. My friend said she thought people would be able to hear so-and-so better if she toned it down and spoke more selectively and in a less inflammatory way, instead of getting people’s backs up and making them feel attacked.
I said that I thought everyone has to express these horrifying things in their own ways, which may not necessarily be completely diplomatic or “nice.” I said that so-and-so had gone through periods of being suicidal, of many years of therapy, of dropping out of her Ph.D. program because she couldn’t focus, and, like most of us, losing many of her friends who feared that associating with her would be a blot on their need to appear loyal to the offending organization. I reminded my friend about how crazy-making all of this can be, when someone is finally trying to understand their own abuse.
Later on, as I thought back on this conversation, I began to wonder why so-and-so was perceived to be yelling and screaming (figuratively, through her writing), and why so many of us, no matter how we present our stories, are accused of being angry whiners, disrupters, unhappy people, aggressive “feminazis,” revenge seekers, complainers, man-haters, and on and on. And, aside from all that, I wanted to try to express why we do yell and scream and why, yes, we absolutely have the right to do so.
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