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Tribune : Women silencing women

Last night, I was reading a thread of comments to a post on Facebook. I had a hard time keeping my emotional brain from reacting. One brave woman had spoken up about sexual abuse and how she is fed up with the «hand on her mouth» silencing her. I’m thrilled by the courage of survivors like her and the fact that people are starting to listen. #TimeIsUp.

Then, there comes woman N°2 with her unsolicited advice about forgiveness and love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against love, who is anyway ? I’m not for being STUCK in anger neither. What bothers me is WOMEN SILENCING WOMEN.

I know there are a lot of women N°2 out there. Here is my message to you.

Dear women N°2,

I understand that when courageous women speak out, this thrusts your nose into your own stuff.

This stuff that you’ve been burying for so long, hoping it will disappear, but you know it’s still here, isn’t it?

You feel it in these dark moments.

I know you are not ready to speak out (yet ?).

I understand.

I see you.

You’ve been doing the best you can to survive your own abuse.

You still do.

But please think twice before you stop other women who have gathered enough courage to speak out.

There are people ready to listen now.

Let these brave women be heard.

Let them speak out.

While doing so, they are healing.

They are also raising awareness and protecting the present generation.

If you don’t feel ready to support them, at least, please don’t dissuade them or throw up your love and forgiveness speech.

Thank you.

I would like to share these quotes from these two authors who made me come to peace with forgiveness.

Desmond Tutu in ‘The book of Forgiving’ : «It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger.»

Brené Brown in ‘Rising Strong’ : «Forgiveness is not forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act.»

Too often, when I hear people giving prescriptions of ‘forgiveness’, I have the feeling that people see it as a «miracle patch» that you just have to stick on hurtful acts, toxic behaviours, so that there would be no pain, no sadness, no anger... Nothing! Miracle patch: the trick is done! Everything is forgotten. As if nothing had happened. While in reality, suffering is stifled under the patch, it gnaws and kills from within.

Can we please clear this huge misunderstanding? Forgiveness, why not ? But not as a miracle patch. Forgiveness is a PROCESS that includes:

- Talking about the facts
- Naming the pain and emotions
- Forgiving or not, maybe just accepting that this happened (acceptance meaning acknowledging it happened, not approving)
- Reconsidering the relationship, working on it or just ending it.

Of course, this process takes time and requires the courage to live the painful emotions. ALL OF THEM ! We are human, we are not just «love, light and peace». We have to dig really deep within us and allow ALL of the emotions to surface. The dark emotions too. We are able to do this!

To other women who are not survivors, but are also so eager to bring back ‘peace’ and ‘harmony’, who are already tired of the #MeToo movement. I would like to say, I’m sorry for you because I have a feeling it is only the beginning. If you are tired, after not even one year, please turn away if you want to but don’t try to silence the brave women speaking out. It is just the beginning. Some women are only starting NOW to realise that what they experienced 5,10, 20, 30 years back was abuse. They are just starting to acknowledge that this was not OK. They are just starting to allow themselves to feel their anger, this anger that was burried deep, deep down for the sake of your ‘peace’ and ‘harmony’. Again, don’t get me wrong, I do get bored and sometimes even annoyed too when one person’s anger seems to be on repeat mode for what seems like forever. However, I understand that for many women, they are just starting to have access to the dark emotions within them. These dark emotions need time to be expressed and the hurts healed. It is only then that they, and we as a society, will reach authentic peace. #MauritiusToo

Pascale I. Bodet