“I’m gonna rape you bitch!”
It’s been thirty years since that violent verbal attack, and those words still echo in my mind causing my chest to tighten and my stomach to clench.
Growing up, I knew the world was not safe for girls and women. I carried a legacy of fear and internalized shame in my DNA and didn’t venture far from home without much trepidation.
But babysitting was my ticket to independence and self-reliance. And despite my fears of being alone, I relished the sweetness of responsibility as much as the sweetness of the treats I enjoyed while the kids slept peacefully. But those five words uttered by a stranger on the other end of the phone one night while I was babysitting shattered that sweetness and robbed me of what little safety I felt.
Those words flooded back recently as I read about the violent verbal attack against Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by a professional colleague in front of reporters. I was reminded of the impact of those words when a client told me about a customer threatening to rape her young female colleague, shattering this women’s sense of safety. I couldn’t get those words out of my head as I read about the increasing violence perpetrated against women in Turkey and the policies being pushed through to condone it.
For centuries men have been wielding power over us with the threat and perpetration of sexual and physical violence. Rape was a common practice of colonialism and slavery. Today Black, Indigenous and Women of Colour are sexually and physically violated at a far greater rate than white women. Trolls and misogynists hurtle degrading comments and threaten sexual assault against feminists online who dare to challenge the status quo. Pedophiles rob our children of their innocence with lude comments and sexually explicit photos.
As Dr. Valerie Rein describes in her book “Patriarchy Stress Disorder”, our traumas mixed with vicarious trauma and generational trauma cause us to freeze, shrink or hide. Fear convinces us if they can’t see or hear us, they can’t hurt us. But this holds us back from speaking our truth and speaking out against injustices and going after what we desire. Those of us triggered into fight mode are shamed for our rage, especially Black women. But our anger is needed now, more than ever, and Black and Indigenous women have been the pioneers of many essential social change movements fueled by their legitimate outrage.
The American President condoned violence against women when he boastfully declared “grab them by the pussy,” and men like Representative Yoho are getting more brazen in what used to be in private. In Canada, we are no better. The Federal government keeps pushing through pipelines despite the research-proven link between man camps and violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people. The Ontario government denied that systemic racism is even a problem. But the Black, Indigenous and Women of Colour I know and their families are still being subjected to discrimination.
It’s been three years since the second wave of the #metoo movement, and yet there’s been little change and a rising rate of violence against women around the world since the quarantine caused by the Global Pandemic. But this “shadow pandemic” gets only a small fraction of government resources and media coverage despite devastating consequences for generations.
Let’s not be ashamed of our anger. It is needed now more than ever to change the systems where mostly white men hold and abuse their power.
We need to fight back.
We may be scared. But we are not weak.
There is a fire inside that we must ignite to burn away the old and take our power back.
It’s in all of us. At 12, with hands trembling, voice shaking, I felt that fire as I screamed back into the phone, ” I’m gonna call the cops you bastard!”
For nearly a decade, it was that fire that allowed me to be the only woman in a room full of abusive men.
You may be terrified to speak up like my 12-year-old self, but what’s more terrifying is what the fate of women, especially those who are marginalized, will be if we remain silent.
What’s terrifying is that calling the police is not an option for so many BIPOC because of the added fear of police brutality.
The whole system needs an overhaul and it’s going to take every single one of us.
We need to root back into our present safety.
We need to keep healing our past traumas with somatic and energetic work.
We need to release the shame that was never ours to carry and reclaim our voice.
We need to reconnect with our warrior spirits and harness the transformative power of our anger.
Let it be the fuel that sets this world as we know it on fire.
Let it burn away the lies of entitlement of colonialism and the inequities of white supremacy and patriarchy.
Let it propel you to fight against injustices and fight for true equality.
Let it help you call on your courage to demand that the “good men” in your life don’t just not rape or hit women but challenge sexist and racist language, actions and policies.
I believe in us and I believe we can create a safer, more just world for our children.
Your fire is needed now more than ever. Will you answer the call?
I have created a free Facebook Group “More than Mothers -A Space of Refuge and Revolution”
to keep these crucial conversations going and learn from other warriors.
To learn more about the transformative power of anger for survivors, I invite you to listen to my trauma informed interview on the About Consent podcast, episode 20 at www.aboutconsentpodcast.com