I opened my regular news reading to find photos of yet another rape victim. Yet another violation of a woman’s rights. In full color. The imagery stark against my retina.
I wonder sometimes if the reason why I cannot get the images of my own trauma out of my head is because every day I have to relive something of someone else’s sorrows. Media is spectacularly exploitative. Of course media is. Journalism is about telling other people’s stories, and because of it there is a trend towards exposing the most painful parts of a story without protecting the reader from their own pain.
This is part of why I strongly believe in trigger warnings. Do they seem stupid sometimes? Do we need to make sure we don’t overuse them? Oh, absolutely. If I didn’t read the articles labeled trigger warning half the time I’d miss out on valuable dialogue. But we need to be cautious with our readers. We need to be kind and thoughtful.
The images of gang rape coming out of India will not leave my head easily. The images of the girl in Steubenville, or the eleven-year old in Texas will not escape my dreams.
I wonder if the reason why so many survivors of assault, of rape, of abuse have not been able to heal properly because they are consistently given images to resurrect their own personal nightmares.
I cannot offer any solutions, because I cannot tell the editors of the world that showing us these photos makes our personal experiences sing louder than the present. I cannot deny that some days, all I want to do is throw in the towel and discontinue my fight, knowing that there will be days where the hurt is louder than the sound of my own voice stemming the tide against violence.
Can we heal when we know that the violence continues outside our own safety nets?
I know I can. But sometimes I cannot know it loudly enough.