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Because These Are Sacred Scars

I want you to meet Natalie Trust. She is a kind and generous friend and a compelling storyteller. She lives life with her heart wide open. I’m so grateful that she’s adding her voice to the #YesAllWomen conversation:

“If he knows you are leaving him, if he knows time has run out, there are two likely outcomes. He will either try to get you pregnant or he will physically harm you,” my psychologist said in a quiet, serious tone.

I nodded in agreement, tears on my cheeks. I could keep my decision a secret for a little while longer.

I would not tell my estranged husband I discovered the whole truth about the double-life he kept hidden from me since the day he met me. I would continue taking his calls. I would do what I needed to do to protect myself until legal steps had been taken to dissolve our marriage.

I know what it’s like to spend days in fear of a man who isn’t getting what he thinks is owed to him, a man who believes he is above the law, above God, above anyone who dared call him out on his deception or his narcissism. I suppose that’s one reason why #YesAllWomen was a powerful witness to me; it was a reminder of the same, all-too common demons other women have in their pasts too. Stories, told in 140 characters on Twitter, ranged from intimate partner violence to street harassment to church abuse, and I nodded my head as I read, sobered by these truths.

The Santa Barbara shootings brought about tragic, violent and untimely deaths for all the victims and for the shooter, and the anguish of their families and their friends is something I cannot fathom. I’m at a loss for words when lives are taken in acts of violence, and I know many others are at a loss for words too. That’s why I think it’s important to note the #YesAllWomen movement isn’t really about the Santa Barbara shooting. It is related, yes, but acts of violence against women occur countless times a day, all over the world and each life lost or wounded is devastating.

There are many who have been critical of the trending hashtag, and there will be those critical of blog posts and magazine articles which keep the fire of our voices blazing. #YesAllWomen has been called opportunistic, calloused, and inappropriate; feminists trying to capitalize on a tragedy in order to further their agenda.

I disagree.

Did you see the YouTube videos? Have you read Elliot Rodger’s manifesto?

If you haven’t, then I suggest not contributing to the conversation. If you have, then I expect you to be able to quickly identify the misogyny, male entitlement and narcissism which absolutely contributed to the deaths and injuries of men and women last week. If you spend ten minutes reading content from his manifesto or watch clips of his uploaded videos, it is self-evident Elliot Rodger made this killing spree about women, not those of us following and using the hashtag.

At one point in his manifesto he says of women, “They are spoiled, heartless, wicked bitches. They think they are superior to me, and if I ever tried to ask one on a date, they would reject me cruelly. I will sneak into their house on the Day of Retribution, just before all the partying starts and slaughter every single one of them with my guns and knives.”

Because he was rejected.

Because he didn’t get the sex he wanted.

Because he was lonely.

Because women chose to say no instead of yes.

Because other men got what he “deserved”.

All of these reasons were included in his desire to kill and carry out an attack on women and men.

Those reasons listed above? They’re also the reasons my therapist was concerned for my safety when I made the choice to leave my husband. His feelings of rejection, his insatiable appetite for sexual encounters with strangers, and the happiness he felt was owed to him all fed dangerous narcissism. So, when I read Elliot Rodger’s words, they struck me in scarred places; when your humanity is disregarded, whether by a spouse or by a stranger, you never forget it.

#YesAllWomen is a powerful testament to millions of women who have been causalities of misogyny, and I am grateful to those who’ve shared their fears and experiences over the weekend and who continue to do so. As voices unite, as we redeem what has been stolen from us by our spouses, by family members, by friends, and by strangers, we’re lighting up the darkness with sacred displays of beauty and strength.

[ image: darkthirty ]

published May 29, 2014

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