What were you wearing though?
CW this article contains references to child, sexual, and physical abuse that some readers may find distressing.
Before I begin, I would like to offer my heart to readers, I know people of all genders suffer every kind of abuse. I wish I had the capacity to write about it all. But I am shackled to the word count.
Women's mental health, on the whole, is more widely accepted in society. We can trawl thousands of Instagram and Tik Tok posts and find women actively opening up about their struggles with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. The impact of this means that in the UK the rate of suicide in women is that of a third of men: 4.9 suicides per 100,000.
From childhood, young boys learn that "boys don't cry.” They're asked to "man up" and we condition boys from a very young age not to express emotion because it is "weak" and let's not forget my personal favourite branding they are tarred with- he's a fanny.
It's okay not to be okay. Until you make them uncomfortable.
As a nation, we sweep the uncomfortable sticky parts of mental health under the carpet. The parts that are viewed as ugly or lesser than that of the norm. Be it men's, transgender's, or the mental health of women that have suffered under the hand of an abuser. With that said, let's give voice now to women and young girls, who for too long are taught to stay quiet.
Statistically, 1 in 4 women have suffered sexual abuse, and 1 in 6 children have also suffered. As opposed to 1 in 20 men. Mental health that is uncomfortable becomes taboo, an awkward silence around the dinner table, a whisper behind your back, a discomfort that morphs into the low self-worth of the survivor. 5 in 6 sexual abuse cases will happen by someone the woman knows, if you peer under the rugs of family homes, you will find the self-worth of a little girl that was told she was a liar. If you listen to conversations between friends about their other “friend” you will hear them wonder what she did wrong for someone to treat her like that. It sounds shocking, it feels icky, but it happens all the time.
So why? Why is society determined to protect those that commit violent crimes and discredit the words of women? The following stories serve to remind us that even in life-changing circumstances, society will question a woman's credibility, we still carry the stigma within our bones which meant we saw a whole genre of literature locking "crazy women" in the attic.
"a life of silence, a life that has no pen and no story, while a life of female rebellion, of 'significant action,' is a life that must be silenced"- Sandra M. Gilbert
This year in 2022, a 10-year-old Ohio girl was forced to travel out of state to gain access to an abortion. As the new abortion law in America makes no exception for incest or rape. Being 3 days over the cut-off date this poor baby had to seek help elsewhere. Instead of reacting with compassion for this little girl, republicans in America claimed it was fake news. The abuser has since been sentenced. But what about the sentence that will hang over that little girl forever? Did she get a public apology? No. I can assure you, that she never will.
Tucker Carlson said, "Why did the Biden administration, speaking of lying, just repeat a story about a 1o-year-old child who got pregnant?" The problem is in the wording here, she didn't "get pregnant" she was subject to horrific and violent abuse. AT. TEN. YEARS. OLD.
In a tweet that was later deleted, Jim Jordan wrote: “Another lie. Anyone surprised?” inferring that women are lying over and over now as a result of Roe v Wade to try and win back their right to choose what happens to their body.
Give nice the middle finger, you're allowed to be angry.
Women and even young girls that have been abused are taboo. It is easier to say we are liars, it is easier to tear apart the mental health of thousands of women than to actively listen and greet the problems that are at their front doors. There is an expectation that runs through society that women keep abuse to themselves. That you keep attending events where your abuser is or that you send your abuser a birthday card to be a good girl. News flash, women don’t owe you “nice.” Balls too nice. Get angry. If women do report abuse, they are subject to an interrogation akin to that of a murderer, they are blamed for their clothing, asked if they were walking alone and if they had been suggestive. Every time you doubt a victim of abuse, you chip away at their mental health. Young women have died, as they have been asked in court to hold up the underwear they were wearing when the abuse happens.
On a smaller scale, women are victimised daily in their lives due to speaking up about abuse. Men will now actively avoid employing a woman they feel is litigious. I’m sorry, what? If you are worried about hiring a woman because she may claim sexual harassment. Ensure there is no whiff of sexual harassment in your workplace. It is not fun to speak out, it is the definition of altruistic. Women that speak out expect no good outcome to come from it, in truth we are hoping that others feel less alone. It is not about accusing someone to ruin their career, in fact, it is embarrassing for us, is uncomfortable and most of the time there will be someone ready to say, she’s talking shit. I would also question how you know someone is litigious at a job interview or is that a question in the personality quiz?
If you feel this article is not relevant then please take pause and ask how you would feel if you told someone you had pneumonia and they asked what you were wearing when you came down poorly, as, if it was inappropriate it's probably your fault. It is that much of a ridiculous situation, it is extremely damaging to mental health.
My work won’t change how women are treated but I hope you all feel less alone. If you read this and seek help, here is a charity that will try to comfort you and help you in any way possible.
My virtual door is always open, I’ll never wonder what you were wearing, and remember- don’t go gentle.