- JL Whitehead
The Survivor's Club
The Survivor’s Club. It’s a club that I never wanted to belong to. I never signed up for it and it was given to me without my consent. But I’m seeing that millions of women belong to this club; and surprisingly, a countless amount of men do too.
The Survivor’s Club is one where inductees suffer sexual abuse at the hands of another and is then forced to carry around the stigma of said abuse in silence and oftentimes in shame.
We don’t come forward when the abuse occurs because oftentimes, we don’t think that we will be believed. Maybe we were too young and didn’t even realize that something had been done to us as opposed to us being a willing participant. Maybe we are a woman who didn’t know to report the abuse because we are in shock and could not believe that a man or a boy would do something like this to us…all done without our consent.
People that belong to this club share one common bond…we don’t speak or mention the unmentionable until we have to.
Sometimes, it is a scene in a movie, the smell of a cologne, the aversion to small, enclosed spaces, or in my case, a song that may act as a trigger.
These can elicit a response that most people who have not experienced this type of trauma can’t understand.
We, who belong to this club, believe that if a certain amount of time goes by, the anger and shame will pass. We believe that as more times goes by, no one will believe us because the first thing that we will be asked is, “why didn’t you come forward sooner?”
Only someone that has never been abused would ask such a question, because in being truthful, there is no right answer.
It took me fifty-one years before I was able to finally admit that I was abused. I knew what happened to me at the age of six and then again at the age of thirteen. It wasn’t violent, but it was still sex. Somehow, it was different at thirteen. At thirteen, you think that you are a young adult even though you’re not. And a person that abuses knows what they are doing, no matter how old they are. It doesn’t matter what state they are in; that is to say, an abuser cannot blame the amount of alcohol that they consume before they committed their crime. The moment that they touch another and that action doesn’t have consent or the victim is underage, it is a violation of that person’s rights.
People that belong to The Survivor’s Club never asked to belong. Some of us have taken our shame and let it morph into something positive. We have created women’s groups and rape counseling services to help our female members. Sad as it is to say, we don’t have half as many outlets for men. And for men, it’s hard because how many men would honestly come forward and willingly present their membership card to this silent fraternity? Not many I would imagine.
” At thirteen, you think that you are a young adult even though you are not. And a person that abuses knows what they are doing, no matter how old they are. ~ J.L. Whitehead”
Yet, services do exist for these members of this club. People are there to talk to you and help in any way they can.
Service Listed Below:
RAINN - 800.656.HOPE (4673)
It is disheartening when you hear/listen to things like the hearing that took place yesterday regarding the GOP nominee for the lifetime role as Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser of sexual misconduct, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Rumor has it that her testimony was compelling.
And yet, the truth is if she is to be believed, this would not only be a win for Democratic Party, but a win for the growing “Me Too” movement.
No one wants to be part of the Survivor’s Club.
Not even me.
~ J.L. Whitehead