Strong Words

by Anna Blanch on November 30, 2011

Today’s 16 days of action post is from Tamara Lunardo. This is a brave post. This is a post that had me reconsider my general rule of not including language that might be offensive. However, seeing as my principle on matters of language is that it isn’t about black and white, it is about what is appropriate to the situation. Thus, Tamara’s post for 16 days of action comes with a language warning and a trigger warning.  I’m so grateful for Tamara’s strength and her perspective.

Just a reminder, a trigger warning is a warning a blogger uses to forewarn readers that a post discusses subjects of a sensitive nature, such as rape, sexism, and violent crime. I apologize in advance if this material is disturbing to some readers. I encourage you to seek out someone to talk to if there are issues this post raises for you. Tamara has included some links below, but you could also take a look at Mandy’s post for more links.

____________________________

It’s not every day you can say, “I will fuck you up” to a cop and get away with it. But that’s exactly what I did, and not only did I come through unscathed, I came through triumphant.

I decided to take a Rape Aggression Defense class with my friend Jen because it sounded like a good idea and it was free. (You can get me to do almost anything if you entice me with “free”; I was raised by the cheapest people on earth.) In the first segment of the class we had some discussion, and I mentioned that I was a “survivor.”

This is the word that RAD uses to describe a person who has suffered a sexual attack but has not died from it. They don’t say it outright, but my impression is that they save “victim” for the person who never lives to tell about it. And this is helpful because when I take the name “victim,” I take on the passivity that comes in tow. “Victim” is a noun with no verb at its root. It suggests no action taken, only received.  But when I call myself “survivor,” I am saying I’ve come through. I have, at the least, survived.

In the final segment of the class we had the opportunity to try out our new skills on specially trained members of the police department. Before we began, one of the officers explained the scenarios we would be placed in. I listened and mentally checked them off in my head: I could do the walk-by, I’d manage the hold from behind, I could probably even take the full-force tumble. But then the officer warned us that they would say things to us, things that might feel insulting or degrading. And I lost it.

I was prepared for any physical challenge they could throw at me, but the threat of words was too much. I hadn’t learned any tricks for getting out of the feelings of worthlessness or humiliation. Words can carry weight heavier than the body of any attacker.

Old hurts still healing shuddered out and I struggled to find my breath. And I thank God for my sweet friend Jen because she laid her hand on my arm and reminded me, “You have words, too. You have strong words.”

And I knew she was right. I didn’t need evasive maneuvers for this one; I had my own words, my God-given strength, and they would be enough. So I breathed and I let out, and I got on my gear, and I faced the reminders and the pain.

I don’t know what the officers said to me in that last scenario because all I could hear was my own voice. I screamed, “Fuck you, motherfucker! I will fuck you up! You don’t control me!” And although the men in protective gear heard my words, I was screaming them to someone else. I had once been silent and passive, and his words had crushed me. In that class, I used my words, my angry, angry words, and I got back up.

And when the scenario was over and the words were out, I was not a victim, and I was more than a survivor. I was a victor because I have words, too. I have strong words. And I will not be silent.

____________________________________________

To find a RAD class near you, click here.

To get help or information about rape or abuse, click here.

If you have suffered abuse or an attack, please know that you are not alone and that you have the right and the power to speak up.

Tamara Lunardo is the editor of the upcoming book What a Woman is Worth (now accepting submissions), and a contributor to Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression. She writes humorous and insightful thoughts on life and faith at Tamara Out Loud and tells stories of Christ and culture at A Deeper Story. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

___________________________

This post is part of the 16 Days of Action toward eliminating violence against women. The 16 Days of Action is a global campaign founded by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, I’m hosting posts across the 16 days, from 25 November to 10 December. You can help by sharing these posts on social media, by taking care of the women around you, & by standing against violence against women. The full list of posts in the series can be found here.

Connect with Anna on Academia.edu, Linked In, facebook page, & Twitter.

Subscribe to Goannatree

_

Related posts:

  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ ShoutLaughLove

    tamara, this has me ugly crying and raising my fist in solidarity. thank you for your boldness, friend. your words are powerful indeed.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Thank you for being with me, Suzannah.

  • http://www.joyinthisjourney.com Joy

    Thank you, Anna and Tamara. This was incredible.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Thanks, sweet friend.

  • eloranicole

    Ugly crying along side everyone else. Goodness. Such a brave moment, my friend. Gives me courage.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Grateful it gives you courage, and grateful for your strong words too.

  • http://twitter.com/payshunzb @payshunzb

    Thank you. I have resisted the identifiers 'victim' and 'survivor' preferring to reframe it as 'experience.' 'Victor' works… never thought about that before…

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Well, I don't always feel like a victor, but I think it helps to name my hope.

  • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

    Tamara, I never cease to be impressed with your raw authenticity. I know this has to be a very sensitive issue for you, and it takes much courage to step forward so openly.

    I do want to encourage you, though, that you are not a victor because of mere words. You are more than a conqueror because of the blood of Christ, and the healing that comes with His wounds. I do not say this tritely, even though it sounds cliché.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      I appreciate the encouragement, Don. Yes, my hope is in Christ, and it is He who heals me. But I want to be careful that my message to other women doesn't come across as, "If you believe in Jesus, your hurts will be gone." Because they are healing, but they are not gone. Yet I hope in His promises.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com HopefulLeigh

    Goosebumps. Such power in your voice, friend.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Thank you, Leigh.

  • http://randomlychad.com Chad

    Dang!

    Whoa!

    [Speechless]

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      That says enough. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading.

  • http://twitter.com/karenhammons @karenhammons

    Whoa. I'm speechless with Chad. LOVE you, Tamara!!!

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Thank you, friend.

  • stephindialogue

    This may seem strange to say in response to such strong words but…amen.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Not at all. I don't even think the "strong words" are so much the things I yelled as they are the telling of the story. So thank you for the "amen."

  • http://www.storywrought.wordpress.com Lizzie

    Incredible, courageous, and beautiful. This resonates so much with me – thanks.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      I'm so glad it resonates with you. Thanks for letting me know.

  • Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson

    Amazing the first time and amazing now. I adore you, friend.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      And I, you. Thank you for your enduring support.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

    Thank you for this. May God give us the strong words we need when we are attacked. Be blessed.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Amen.

  • kylajoyful

    I haven't been sexually abused, so I can't relate to that part of your post. I can relate, however, to not feeling in control with words, which is what I'm gathering is the point of this post. SO many times I've been silent when hurtful words have been spoken to me. They may not be highly abusive words, but they've hurt, nonetheless, and caused depths of problems in my life as I've turned inward to deal with emotional pain (hence, multiple instances of depression). Only in the last year, with my New Year's Resolution to speak up, have I started responding with confidence, strength, and a refusal to let the words of others control me. This post reminds me that it's a good thing to continue to stand up for myself, and gives me courage to keep doing so. Thanks, Tamara.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Yes! You absolutely get the point. May God continue to bless you with new strength.

  • http://iamjakz.wordpress.com Jakz

    Incredible. It sounds like you were in that class not just to learn skills, or to recognize you're a survivor, but to know you are a conqueror.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Thanks, Jakz. It was an incredible experience, and I'm always so grateful to be able to share some of it with others.

  • christiangirlsguidetodivorce

    Absolutely beautiful, raw, real, and effing awesome.

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      Thanks so much.

  • http://www.sophianetwork.org.uk Jenny

    This is really powerful. I've never been physically attacked but I have been silenced many times in the past, and it's so easy to slip back into that. I want to say that with you – I will not be silent

    • http://www.tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara Out Loud

      So glad you will join me in refusing to be silent.

  • Pingback: The Four Letter Prescription or Getting By on Fiddlesticks | Amuse Or Bemused()

  • Pingback: The Four Letter Prescription or Getting By on Fiddlesticks | Amuse Or Bemused()

  • Pingback: Suspension of belief — Goannatree()

Previous post:

Next post: