I am not prone to cursing but this weekend this blog had me all up in 4-letter arms. I sometimes forget that even though I’m surrounded by my warm, cozy, supportive group of about 30 or so regular commenters that tens of thousands of other people read this site. Some of them very strange people indeed. You know what? I don’t mind the strange ones. I certainly don’t mind people telling me I’m wrong. I love a debate. But someone telling me I should be murdered? I mind.
And it’s not just for myself that I am concerned but for anyone that reads the comments on here in a fragile state of mind.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Most of you probably noticed nothing this weekend other than that the lead post had a tasty pic of Tom Sellick’s chest hair in edible form – what’s not to love? The only way you might have noticed something amiss was if you happened to subscribe to the comments on one of my posts about my sexual assault. The problem came because I put my post on Lady Gaga and the Glamorous Rape up on Huffington Post (where I also blog). That post turned out to be way more popular than I had anticipated and several other sites picked it up. Readers from those sites found their way here and… this weekend happened.
These posts have long been a source of controversy on this site. It’s been raised – politely – in the comments before that my sexual assault has nothing to do with health or fitness and so people question why I write about something so deeply personal. I write about it for the same reason I write about my eating disorder and my anxiety and my daughter who died – because it is a part of me. My sexual assault was a major factor in getting me into physical fitness, especially in regards to kickboxing and karate. But it has also infiltrated my soul even more deeply, affecting issues like my body image and my self esteem and my willingness to trust people to have physical power over me, all of which actually do tie in to health and fitness. For me, letting you guys in on the messy parts of my brain is critical to explaining what I do and why I react the way I do. Besides, opening myself up to other people has really shown me how much of this life is about shared experiences and I have learned so much – and healed so much – because of your help.
I knew when I first wrote about sexual assault that it would make some people squeamish. Some people are so uncomfortable with this topic that they have requested me to e-mail them a warning before I post one (which I do). And then others think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill and think I should just be grateful that nothing worse happened to me (which I am). Some even took it to mean I was impugning men as a gender (which I am not). And yet the reason I continue to talk about rape and sexual assault is because I believe that the only way to overcome these types of dark crimes is to open them up to the light. It’s my choice to do this. It’s my blog.
Blogging at the Huffington Post has mostly inured me to the kinds of hateful personal attacks people say on the Internet and yet some people still found a way to get under my skin. Not that I’m particularly fond of letting them know that. I questioned whether or not to address this at all – didn’t want to give them any more power – except that I worried about other people, other survivors (from whom I get many, many e-mails), reading those same comments and feeling attacked themselves or triggered or hurt. This kind of shaming is exactly what perpetuates the culture of silence that surrounds and facilitates sex crimes.
To those of my readers who have been hurt in this way, you have all my empathy. This is not normally a problem on this blog. In fact, this is the first time in almost two years of blogging that I have had to delete comments for reasons other than blatant advertising (like those stupid diet pills ads that occasionally show up). I’m convinced that my readers here are generally the greatest people on the planet and I’ve had such good experiences with many of you via this site & e-mail. I’m grateful to all of you who support me and love me, even when you don’t agree with me.
But I want you to know that I will not shut up about this. I’m not perfect; I am so very fallible. On this subject I’ve been angry and ambivalent, depressed and regretful. But I learned a long time ago that being quiet when someone threatens to kill you doesn’t work. This time I’m screaming.