It's been an entire week of brave women coming out from the hands of Jian Ghomeshi's abuse. After the first 4 women came out with their stories, the proverbial snowball has ensued. Now, you will see woman after woman coming out sharing their stories, and experiences at the hands of Ghomeshi. Now the message about abuse is starting to be understood.
The message is this: Abuse of any kind is not acceptable, in any manner of form. But it is up to us all to make it safe for the people who have been abused to come forward. Come forward, if not for you, than for the future people who will fall under the same abuse you suffered.
When I saw this twitter message today, I was reminded of a great learning moment that I want to use as a parallel to this story.
A great teacher, and friend of mine once showed me the way to overcome "Stage fright."
I'm paraphrasing here, but the premise of this is that the word is actually misleading. The fright really has nothing to do with the stage. Nobody is afraid of a stage, which is what the fear is linked to in language. It turns out, the only reason why people are afraid, or get nervous of public speaking, is because they are afraid of the audience's judgement of them.
We get terrified of the projected judgement of what the audience will think of us, our message, or how we will be perceived. Their judgement is so powerful that it paralyzes us. It actually makes our mouth dry, makes us shake, or stutter. There are countless physiological traits that happen to us when we get nervous. This is all because of our perceived fear of what has yet to happen.
The people who have been able to master stage fright have done so by having a belief system that their message is bigger than they are. The concept is that their message is so important that it doesn't matter what the audience thinks of them.
The example my friend gives is that if you had to stand up in front of 5,000 people to speak, you would be noticeably nervous. However, if someone told you that you had to get up to the front of 5,000 people to tell them that there was a fire, and they had to calmly exit the room, the nervousness would be much less. Because the message of saving lives is much more important than the thought of how the crowd would judge you.
This message is the same with sexual, domestic or any abuse. It amazes me that the judgement of how the world will treat, or shame us for our story or experience, that it stops us from telling it for the fear of what the world will think or judge us.
So if you are ever thinking about not sharing your experience, understand that although it happened to you, the power in the experience is in sharing it, is that you are creating awareness so that it won't happen again. To another wife, mother, daughter, or child. If the abuse is bigger than you, it lands on the cause, and not in being a victim, because there's no positive power in being the victim.
Some might say that it won't make a difference in sharing your story or experience. They might say that it's an ocean, and they are a single drop of water in comparison. The ocean is so vast, and they are just a drop of water.
But I say share, tell, speak! The more you share, the more people will identify with your story. Then the ocean won't seem so big.
After all, what is an ocean, but a multitude of drops...