As some of you may know, I work in the mental health field. I work at a community mental health center which offers a wide range of services and a sliding fee scale to serve those in the community who do not have insurance or large incomes. My speciality is in addictions and what it has shown me is the harsh way this world turns on it’s people if they do not toe the line and deal with their problems in the socially acceptable way.
We don’t make it easy to be a survivor in this country. We want people to deal quietyly and keep all their prepackaged issues from before we met them wrapped carefully in bubble wrap so they don’t interfere with the “real world.” We want the plucky little victim who doesn’t “let’ what happened to her change her life and moves on with great dignity. It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with us. We want to deplore the horrible things that happen in this world yet not let them get their yucky all over use. We want to shake our head and feel sorry about what happened to some person somewhere but dealing with the fall out is a lot. The sympathy ends when you’re dealing with it, then the person is broken and frustrating and “unwilling” to fix what’s wrong with them.
We want to live in a world where bad things happen to someone else. This means that we can act the way we want and say whatever we want and not care about how our callous thoughts and actions may hurt others. We live in a world where the FCC can fine a network $500,000 for a slight nipple slip but sitcom characters regularly joke about rape, violence, child abuse and homophobia. We live in a world where a 30 year old woman who is addicted to heroin partly because it was away to deal with the horrendous child abuse she suffered is the “bad guy.” We live in a world where it’s easier to punish a women for drinking than it is the asshole that’s abusing her. We live in a world where a felony drug conviction hurts the individual through not allowing them to get medicaid, a good job or a credit card. We want them to get clean but don’t want to be bothered with whatever underlying problems they may have.
We live in a world where traumatized kids are classified as “trouble makers” and their blatant cries for help are seen as “acting up.” We assume a teenage girl who has a tendency for drama is just trying to get attention when she mentions the adult in her apt complex that sleeps with her. In our mad dash to make sure that people learn “responsibility” for their actions we forget that they were not responsible for the first thing that happened to start them on this path. We fear allowing them to see their abuse or misfortune as an “excuse.” so we gloss over it as a way to make it easier and simpler for us.
A teenage girl suffering from years of abuse at a relative’s hands, placed in foster care punches a girl who calls her an orphan and messed up and unwanted and she is the aggressor and is removed from any pro-social activites she engaged in because she’s a threat.
I all boils down to the fact that we don’t make it easy to be survivor because to do that means admitting that what happens to someone isn’t their fault and that they shouldn’t have to deal with it in a private way for us. We have to see and realize the failings of our society but we don’t want to, so we take it out on the victims for reminding us that life is messy and scary and not easy to get over.