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Damaged Goods

Last night I caught up with two of the TV shows I watch: Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives.  Normally I'm fine with both but last night one had me curled up tightly in the corner of my sofa and the other one had me in tears.  In a way I'm thankful for Desperate Housewives bringing me to tears with the footage of Mike's funeral (it was really touching) but it was also needed after the Grey's Anatomy episode.  The episode in particular is the one involving the girl who was kidnapped when she was younger and who suffered various forms of abuse and rape whilst in captivity.

When it comes to the entertainment industry there are certain topics I struggle over.  I can't see the point in having mindless violence in films, it doesn't often add to the story but instead glamourises things and desensitises us from violent things.  I also struggle over abuse and rape storylines but for a different reason.  It used to just be something I didn't think about but since Nov 09 it's something I identify with all too well.

I like to think that I'm okay, that watching storylines about it isn't affecting me, but they do.  Last night's Grey's Anatomy was a little close to the bone especially when she was talking about how people skirt around the subject.  They seem to think that if they don't talk about it, it never happened. But it did. Not talking about it won't make it go away.  Equally, talking about it won't make it go away but I like to think that it makes it easier for me to cope with - I won't let it rule me, I can own it.  But each time something reminds me of it I slip back and remember.  I used to get upset and feel angry but now I just feel sick and disappointed. Disappointed that I didn't do things differently, disappointed that he didn't think it was a bad idea, disappointed that the company he worked for didn't believe me... I hate that it got that far, I feel sick that I even let it happen and I feel worse when I think how much further it could have gone.  To this day I still cannot work out how it was so close to rape and yet wasn't, it stopped at sexual abuse only.  But the thing that gets to me most is the look on peoples faces when I tell them.  

And this is why I struggle when it comes to entertainment.  Sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse and everything else along the same lines that I'm not going to list here are not entertainment.  They change people.  You rarely see the other side of this shown on TV.  Sometimes you see some of the psychological changes but you don't see all of it.  You don't see the trips to the police station which is very different in real life than on TV.  You don't see the panic and utter horror cross the victims face when they get summoned to court for it after thinking they were doing well at forgetting it all.  You don't see the sleepless nights, the nights where every time you shut your eyes you remember it all, the nights where you sleep with the light on because you're too afraid of what might happen in the dark even if it didn't happen in the dark.  You don't see the trips to the ladies help centre or the counselling they give you or the lawyer they sort out for you.  You don't see the court prep, trying to work out whether you can face him again in the court or would rather go for a separate room and be seen on a video screen.  You don't see the court day, the panic before and the relief after, or the psychiatrist who sits with you during it all.  

As much as I struggled to watch it, I thank Grey's Anatomy for tacking that topic. They handled it well, they didn't glamourise it, they talked about it sincerely but because they did this it felt more real. Yes, they dealt with the medical side of it which luckily I didn't really have to deal with but they also covered some of the psychological side.  Too many things just seem to make out that this is something that just happens and you get over it quickly or they use it as 'an interesting twist' in the story.  I guess what I'm saying is this.  If the entertainment industry wants to use difficult storylines then do it in a way that will educate people, that will empower victims to tell someone if it happens or better still will help stop it happening.  Ignoring someone when they say no is wrong.  They weren't asking for it.  It is not your right.  

I may not be able to recall the exact dates off the top of my head because they're dates and I'm rubbish with dates, but I still remember it all.  It doesn't just go away.  I still remember the flight I took home after court.  I now have a friend who works for that airline and as much as I love talking to them I still remember that post court flight.  But I'm not going to stop talking to them because of that because I enjoy talking to them way too much.  However, not everything's as easy as that.  I am damaged.  I know I am but I hope that I'll be able to change this.

The next time someone jokes about serious topics, even if it is a storyline in the entertainment industry, think twice before brushing it off as 'just a storyline'.  It jumps up on you at times when you least expect it and it'd not fun.  Also, please spare a thought for those who, for whatever reason, haven't spoken up.  Don't judge them.  It's not easy.

Edit: I should explain that at the moment I'm okay.  The remembering episodes are less frequent but I still felt the need to write this to make others more aware.
If you are in trouble and need to speak to someone then there are many people out there who can help like http://www.savana.org.uk and http://www.sarac.org.uk - I cannot speak highly enough about Frauen Notruf.


( 4 humble opinions — Your humble opinion? )
May. 7th, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
I think that the scars of something like that will remain there forever, but their intensity will fade. I hope they do anyway.

But you're right, in most shows the victims of abuse of any kind either go overboard in their reaction or act far too brave to be real and the aftermath usually isn't shown or goes too smooth for anyone to take seriously.

I've never been sexually assaulted, so I can't speak from experience. My reference point is bullying, since I've been through a lot of that and like you, I still wear the scars from those years even though it's been over 20 years since it happened. You learn to live with it and one day it's easier than the other. And that could be shown on TV instead of giving us only the excesses (the heroes or the totally depressed ones).
May. 7th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
They seem to be fading. The police here were right.

Point of this was to try and show that it's not all like it is on TV. I hope that came out alright.
May. 8th, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
I didn't go for the police and counselling route. I told friends and let it screw up my presentation of myself into using it as something to make me look interesting because the person in question had made me feel that there was nothing else interesting or worthwhile about me. Eleven years later I'm still dealing with it, but you do get over it in the sense of getting to the top of the crappy hill and starting down the other side. I wonder from time to time if I'd have got over it quicker if I'd done the police and courts thing. I'm sure you will.
May. 8th, 2012 09:07 pm (UTC)
I think this was supposed to be more down the 'TV shows it wrong' route than 'I'm still suffering badly' route... Sort of figured that if they get to make TV shows with storylines that remind me then other people can learn about what it's actually like rather than just seeing it as a story.

I wouldn't say I'm doing badly and at the time I really regretted going to the police and I hated having the counselling during the court prep but I think it made a difference and I'm sure I wouldn't be able to talk about it as easily without that.

That's not to say that what I did is best for everyone. My best friend can't and won't talk to anyone about what happened to her... but the point of this entry is that there are so many people out there who haven't been able to speak out and the majority of other people appear to think that everything's fine as soon as it's over even when it isn't. Does that make any sense?
( 4 humble opinions — Your humble opinion? )


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