It’s has been harder than I ever imagined to articulate the thoughts and emotions that have been conjured up due to recent events. It has taken some time to comprehend, to digest.
Facts and figures followed, the pain only grew, and the worst part? A lot of it isn’t surprising anymore.
But, social media, once again, woke up, swimming with posts relating to the safety of women. Posts highlighting the safety precautions we all take, posts saying “text me when you get home xx.”, posts of individual experiences, and posts that educate – and all of them in honour of Sarah. Many stepped up: to listen; to educate; and some to tell their stories, and it suddenly felt that together, we might be taking steps to deal with this. Timid, small, first steps – but steps nonetheless.
It takes us all
This surge of attention created on social media forged a community; where people feel able to tell their story, and which calls on others to listen. We all know how hard it is to understand something we’ve never experienced, but now the light is shining on us all to listen in order to understand. Even I, having known that my instinctive behaviour when out alone was the custom of all women for so long, now, suddenly, am confronted with the fact that my experience of harassment, fortunately and thankfully, is limited. I have realised that I, too, need to listen.
It is imperative that we listen to those who bravely lay their stories before us in order to help others
The unspeakable events of two weeks ago are, tragically, not unique. I hope and pray that we are starting to see a shift and a swell that will change culture. One of the most powerful images I have seen floating round was one of graffiti, with the words ‘Protect Your Daughter’ struck-through, and underneath the words written in bold, ‘Educate Your Son’. The sentiment is spot on; we must get rid of outdated, misogynistic, Orwellian dystopic ideologies. Women should not be made to hide away, to shield, to protect themselves from the dangers of the streets. The dangers of the streets need to be eradicated.Women need to be protected, but not by taking away freedoms! Our communities should be safe places, without fear or threat, without the need to protect oneself from others. I truly believe that through conversation, community, and prayer, this sentiment can become a reality. It takes us all.
Listen, engage, learn
If you have ever been in any circumstance where you have felt vulnerable or threatened, abused or mistreated sexually, or even if your experience of this is limited and you would like to understand more, I want to strongly encourage you to read Tim Hein’s book Understanding Sexual Abuse. Through page after page of personal insights, I learn, I re-read, I underline and slowly understand snippets of his experience. His words are honest, open and raw and they are precisely what we need to read. They are exactly how we are going to learn and move forward. Hein’s book draws on his personal experiences, his wife’s personal experiences and well researched findings, as they masterfully guide the reader on how best to support abuse survivors. It is imperative we listen to voices like Tim’s, those who bravely lay their stories before us in order to help others.
It is evident that our problems haven’t been solved, you only have to turn to the news and see the upsetting displays of violence at Sarah’s vigil. But the support, the determination for change, those stepping up, those educating, and stories like Tim’s bravely presented to help others are a breath of clean, cool air.
About the Author
Bronté is the newly appointed Production Assistant for Muddy Pearl. With a degree in Geography, she loves beaches, mountains and Scottish Islands and is always up for an adventure. She enjoys baking, cooking, painting, photography and reading. But you’ll often find her in her favourite Edinburgh cafes with friends!