• Austen Hayes

Dose #7: Until Now; Women's Strength In Stories Shared


"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Listening to women talk openly about molestation and harassment, I quietly applaud their courage. With every story I feel relief for the millions of girls and women (more than 158 million), isolated by the secretive nature of sexual assault. Most have remained silent, carrying the burden of dark, private memories, avoiding the added pain of branding and rejection - avoiding the risk of being seen as they see themselves - 'not good enough'. Until now.

Women tell us their silence is related to shame. It feeds on itself, persistent and deepening as somehow, in some crazy way, they believe what happened to them was their fault.


I think there's something else, something ruinous to the core of every girl or woman whose

been assaulted - the belief that what happened to them would never happen to a good girl or a respected woman. And, the younger the victim, the less able they are to see the reality of a perpetrator's behaviour, the more likely they are to believe what happened to them is a result of their lack of worth - not his.


Surely this wouldn't happen to those more privileged, more intelligent, more beautiful, more valued, those worthy of protection. This can only be for those to be used.


More damage. This loss of personal value separates girls and women from each other. The emotional intimacy required of close bonds becomes too risky, the sorrow of separation preferred to the humiliation of being revealed. Separation builds on harm already done.


The stamp of low value, lingering long after an experience of abuse, seeps into everything. To be seen as attractive is to have greater worth, sex and love are muddled, adult partners are chosen for the wrong reasons, being treated unfairly in the workplace may be overlooked, inadequacy is soothed with compulsive effort, money a way to raise personal value, parenting can be skewed, and feelings of being alone may grow larger and worse with time.


Until now, until this movement.


So, this movement, thank God for this movement - now we see women of all ages, all socioeconomic groups - the beautiful, the plain, the smart, the uneducated, fair-skinned and dark, it doesn't matter - they have all been victimized and they're all speaking up, comforting those who - until now - thought it was only them.


My wish, with the brave, open telling of these stories, those who see themselves as less, are finally freed. And, if you are one, I ask you to see yourself with fresh eyes. See yourself as same, not different. Victimized but never victim. Worthy in every way. Worthy for no other reason than because you came into the world that way. Surround yourself with those who see your worth. Those who act on that worth. Open your soul, walk fearlessly in the light of day. Nothing to hide. Everything to be.


If you know someone who may benefit from reading this post, please pass it on. Thank you.

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Stay Curious. Coaching available by phone. 917-526-3055 austenhayes@gmail.com

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