Friday, 4 December 2009

alternate realities; multiple realities

i want to say something about abuse and silence and denial and 'reality'. um. really not sure where to begin. i was talking with someone this afternoon whose abuser - like so many abusers - flatly denies to her face that any of it has ever happened. presented with these two conflicting realities - it happened a lot//it never ever happened, she believed she must be mentally ill as only mentally ill people can see two realities. believing she was mentally ill became self-fulfilling.

i read something once about 'spirited away', perhaps in a zine but i can't remember where now, a woman was describing how the film felt sort of familiar to her, felt like how it was for her to be a child subjected to abuse: living in multiple realities, strangeness, among ghosts and unexplained happenings.

i want to write about how bizarre the experience of abuse, and its after-effects, can be. how experiences of 'ghosts' and experiences of mental strangeness, dissociation and a sense of unreality are normal reactions to living through it. i want to write about how our denial and 'othering' of people's normal reactions to abuse can further traumatise survivors, for example like the woman i mentioned above, driving her far crazier than she was in the first place.

i want to write about how society is set up in such a way as to perpetuate abuse by feeding it with denial, by allowing a reality where abuse is absent or minimized, to exist. we need one, unified reality: society needs to acknowledge that abuse of power and control are everyday occurences, everywhere, and we can all work to minimise it.
"The knowledge of horrible events periodically intrudes into public awareness but is rarely retained for long. Denial, repression and dissociation operate on a social as well as individual level... Like traumatized people, we have been cut off from the knowledge of our past."
(I heart Judith Herman)

If abuse, its histories and its effects were acknowledged, then societal changes would have to occur. individual children would be more likely to be able to escape the twisted reality at home by being confronted with one, unified reality at school and in the media where abuse of power was unacceptable. the realities of domestic abuse and how to stay safe are not taught in schools because this would call into question all oppressions. if we, as a society, started to understand control then the whole structure would be threatened, would disintegrate.

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