“I was not taught to love myself. I was taught to love others. It was strange to love myself. To even think about loving myself was strange.”
“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”
-Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State 1997-2001
“It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone’s else’s eyes.”
-Sally Fields, accepting the award for Best Female Actor, 1984 Academy Awards Ceremony
My Dear Readers,
The silence of mainstream society on the topic of sexual assault, harassment, tormenting, bullying, groping and other forms of sexual violence has finally been broken.
Today, thousands of voices, of all genders are saying “no more,” standing up for the human right of bodily autonomy, and specifically, for the respect of the physical and psychological well-being of women.
I want to tip my hat and express my appreciation to those who have raised their voices in the #MeToo Movement, many of which are Millennials or members of Generation Z. These young people refused to keep silent, and rejected the societal pressure to excuse and accept that behavior the way preceding generations have, a recent example being the testimony of over 150 female victims of USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nasser, who received a sentence of up to 175 years for his abuse of female athletes.
What makes these victims particularly courageous is the fact that they faced significant obstacles by the leadership of that organization, which chose to enable Mr. Nasser and covered up this abuse, creating a decades-long reign of terror, resulting in the resignation of a university president and the resignation of the majority of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors.
I want to hold steadfast to Oprah Winfrey’s words in her Golden Globes speech,
“I want all the girls watching to know a new day is on the horizon.”
However, I remain frustrated by the story of Recy Taylor, the young African-American wife and mother that Oprah referenced, who was abducted by six armed white men, raped and left blindfolded by the side of the road in 1944 while walking home from church services in Abbeville, Alabama. Mrs. Taylor died 10 days prior to the Golden Globes speech. She was 99 years old. She was unable to receive justice during the Jim Crow era. She never received justice prior to her death.
African-American women and girls have endured the era of Suffering in Silence of for more than 400 years. The horrors they have endured have been ignored, and the lack of recognition of their plight continues to this very day.
Despite the national media attention the #MeToo Movement has gained, its founder, Tarana Burke, an African-American woman, has been largely ignored and discounted by the press, and her contributions to the struggle of women enduring sexual harassment and sexual assault have been silenced in the same way.
Racism has played a major role in furthering the sexual harassment and traumatization of African-American women. However, the actions of African-American males, community leadership and silence within the African-American community have also played a key role in the silencing of these tortured voices within the community.
An example of this is the negative reception and public attacks toward the film The Color Purple (1986), which told the story of life within a rural African-American community during Jim Crow, including depictions of male chauvinism, incest, and domestic violence within the African-American community of that time, in addition to racism and segregation.
It was deemed stereotypical of African-American males by a Hollywood chapter of the NAACP that led a national boycott of the film. It is a reality that the boycott influenced the denial of any recognition during the Academy Awards ceremony of that year.
It is my professional opinion that The Color Purple, despite its critics, is an excellent depiction of the impact of complex trauma within the African-American community. Sadly, to protect an image of the African-American community, its civil and human rights leadership denied itself the opportunity provided by the movie to start a dialogue on psychological trauma impacting its population.
That was a missed opportunity in 1986, but, it’s a new opportunity for Bobbi’s Saga in 2018. It is with that in mind that Loving Me More will publish Bobbi’s Saga on a twice-monthly basis.
Bobbi’s saga continues…
Lately, I have been writing about things that really affect me: fear, trust and parents. I started reading a book about Gabrielle Union. She is a very famous movie star. I’ve always thought of her as beautiful and never thought of her having any trauma.
I started reading her book before I realized that she was raped. I wasn’t sure how I would react to it. Would I just skip those pages? Would it make me feel terrible and remind me of my own rapes? Would I be able to handle it?
Gabrielle Union was working in a Payless store. The store was robbed. The robber beat and raped her by gunpoint. She told the story of having an out of body experience and having the gun to her head, and how she fought, but lost.
She talks about feeling damaged and having PTSD afterwards. It got me thinking of never being the same after the rapes and seeing myself as damaged.
She was terrified being in front of a grand jury. The robber/rapist got 37 years. Gabrielle talks about the mistrust and fear she still has, 24 years later. She writes:
‘Once you’re been the victim of violent crime and you’ve seen evil in action, you know the devil lives and breathes in people all day every day.’
That feeling of surveillance, of being hunted, never goes away. Fear influences everything I do. I saw the devil up close, and I see how naive I was.
Of course, I can never truly have peace again. That idea is fiction. You can figure out how to move through the world, but the ideal of peace in your soul? It doesn’t exist. She talks about moving from a rape victim to a rape survivor.
Reading this didn’t scare or bother me as I thought it would. I identified with some of what she said. I don’t think of actresses having such a hard life. Gabrielle says sometimes people will recognize her and say “me too.”
I could tell how far I have come after reading about Gabrielle’s rape. Four years ago, I couldn’t have read it without having terrible flashbacks and increased pain. I wouldn’t have been able to make it through her story at all.
So much has changed in six years. I now know and don’t expect the memories, flashbacks, pain or fears to go away. Instead these will become lighter. I want it to become light enough that I can enjoy life, learn to do the things I enjoy and want to fulfill my life.
Concluding Words-Dr. Kane
Bobbi, in walking the journey of self-discovery and choosing to read the autobiography of Gabrielle Union, unknowingly found herself at a potential roadblock. She discovered that an actress she had idealized was like her, a victim of sexual assault.
Without warning, Bobbi found herself at a crossroad. She faced the option of going back to the old behavior of living in fear of sexual assault by seeking to avoid the readings. Instead, Bobbi choose to utilize a therapeutic technique known as “The Five R’s of RELIEF,” grounding and empowering herself to live with her fears of sexual assault and continue the journey of self-discovery.
When Bobbi realized that Gabrielle had been raped, she momentarily took a breath (RESPITE), held and owned her emotions (REACTION), and considered her options/choices (REFLECTIONS). This empowered her to make the decision to continue reading (RESPONSE) and to later reconsider the impact of her actions (REEVALUATION).
The outcome of this experience was threefold:
- The recognition that others, including famous actresses, share similar experiences of sexual assault,
- The understanding of the distance she has traveled in the six years of therapy and the ability to empower herself,
- The awareness that although the experience will never go away, the emotional weight can become lighter and the psychological wound with therapeutic work can heal.
Bobbi’s therapeutic journey has a prognosis of success. In the six years of individual psychotherapy she has transformed from the stages of simply existing and surviving her life to that of driving and empowerment. Future therapeutic work will focus on other stages of empowerment, including striving (pacing and direction) and thriving (achievement of advocacy , balance and calmness).
Oprah Winfrey left us with these lasting remarks in her Golden Globes speech:
“And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure they are the leaders to the time where nobody has to say “me too” again.”
Bobbi is truly a magnificent woman.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Until the next journey…Bobbi’s saga continues…