Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ohio rape case special: Zombie warfare.

The news attacks with another story of kidnapping, imprisonment and rape, and our buried nightmares reanimate like zombies that will chase us bloodthirstily for a week.

First we're numb. We try to not click the news links and we palm back the zombies' lowering faces without looking. We mute the news-flashes that cut through our pretense that nothing exists in the universe besides Bruno Tonioli's hyperbolic frenzy for foxtrot, and we look straight ahead as the zombies murmur, "braains," in our ears. We dodge whispered conversations, hearing only snatches of, "It's so awful, so unbelievable. Wouldn't someone know?" and we duck into bathrooms feeling queasy, with the zombies behind us pointing back to the fading words.

By the end of the day we're twitchy. The night seems darker. The zombies trail us as we walk, seeming to move closer. Then closer.

By the end of the night we're shrieking in the tub like Janet Leigh clutching her shower curtain while dozens of zombies of all shapes and sizes pile on us to infect our brains with panoramic terror.

The world is a trigger bomb. Is there any escape?

Yes, there is.

Escape route, step one: You want to scream at those whispering people by the water cooler, "Yes these things happen! No, for the love of Albert freaking Einstein, it is not 'unbelievable'!" (strangles imaginary air-neck) "And yes, yes!, dear merciful death from above!, someone probably did know!" And then you'd kick over the whole 1982-ish Crystal Springs mechanism with a big sploosh!

This is okay. This is not wrong. Your residual trauma-related anger may be triggered and trying to work it's way out. Feel free to fantasize about various splooshings for at least a good half an hour. Maybe buy one of these. Or be like this brilliant child:

This may help you avoid actually kicking anyone in the head. That's really the main point of step one.

Escape route, step two: Your trauma memories spring from your pores like you're a Wes Craven Chia Pet and you're sort of choke-drowning in grief for those three Ohio women like one of those CGI extras in Titanic.

This is also okay. Remember, you were a victim too. Deep trauma leaves scars. And empathy is a virtue (even if it makes you like Leonardo DiCaprio who can't get on the door sometimes). You wouldn't ask those poor women in Ohio not to cry. Don't ask it of you. You can create a safe space to vent your feelings without doing harm to you or others (see brilliant child again).

Also know that (brace yourself) most enabling bystanders are scared too. Feel free to air-punch me from wherever you are for saying this. "Enablers are vampire-daemons from the Place Beyond Doom. They allow our hurt." Yes. True. But sometimes it's helpful to notice motives. Inside anyone who may have seen any strange perversity in that Ohio house, and overlooked it, is probably just another broken person who fears the truth. This could also be true for those who overlooked you. Accepting big hard truth is a feat of strength. If you can accept truth, and those around you can't, know this means you're stronger than them, and try to have mercy.

Somewhere around this daunting feeling is the general aim of step two.

Escape route, step three: Do good with your pain. Don't let the perpetrators win by turning you into them. Don't hurt others because it will make you feel better. And maybe, if you feel strong enough, use your experience to help others. Walk back up to that water cooler (after a hearty wail-out on your car's back seat) and engage them. Tell them that one out of every four women, and four out of every one hundred men, is molested or raped at least once in their lifetime. Maybe hand them this terrifying RAINN stat sheet (perhaps emphasize the last two sections):

If the water-hoarders walk away even slightly more informed, congratulations. You've completed step three. 

Then after all of that, if you've processed the kindling-bundles of rage, fear and shame, passed through uninformed, water-starved masses everywhere, and come out the next morning okay with yourself, knowing you survived, you know truth and you do good with it, then be proud. Rick Grimes has nothing on you.

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