The Hannah Graham Story Hurts Too Many People
The search continues for Hannah Graham, the missing University of Virginia student. Like you, I have no idea what happened to her but I pray for a positive ending.
Hannah’s friends and family are going through so much right now. But they are not alone in their suffering.
I want to say I am so sorry to all the women (and to men as discussed at the end of this article) who are feeling so much as they watch Hannah’s story unfold.
How many of you can feel the power of the story of this sweet missing girl?
When it comes to young women in America being attacked, the numbers are staggering. That means so many of us don’t just watch a story like Hannah’s play out on the screen without feeling it deeply and viscerally. It awakens things deep inside us, reminding us of our own trauma that we have endured.
Hannah’s story, unfortunately, is our story. It shakes us to our very core, in every cell of our body.
As women, we know not to walk alone at night; we know to be careful if we’re going out drinking. We know these things as individuals and as communities. Yet, despite all these precautions, when another Hannah goes missing, our pain begins anew.
“YOU ARE SO LUCKY”
Rarely can such well-intended words hurt so badly.
If I had a dime for every time a woman bravely shared her story of being assaulted only to be told how lucky she is, I would be the richest person ever.
This utterly confusing response has been given to some of my clients, my friends and countless women I don’t know. It has even been given to me.
I realize if we are alive and able to share our story, there is a more final or permanent fate we escaped. Still “Feeling Lucky” isn’t how most of us feel.
A response like that inspires disbelief, outrage and anger.
“Lucky? You think I’m LUCKY?! Fuck you! I don’t feel lucky.”
What about the many overachieving college girls walking alone on campus? The ones attacked by a stranger, shattering her sense of trust, confidence, her place in the world and possibly ending her life. Do you mean to tell me that she’s lucky?
The woman who was date raped by a friend: You’d call her lucky, huh?
The girl violated by someone who broke into her apartment: Tell me, how lucky is she?
Often, a police officer, a doctor, a minister and even family members will utter this phrase to these distraught women. After all, police officers and doctors, especially, have seen what “not lucky” looks like. The fact that many of those who give this response are men does not help matters.
I know for many, at times, death seems like a better option than reliving the assault every day.
“I STILL GET TO HAVE A LIFE”
During a phone coaching session this week, I was reminded by the sweetest voice on the line, once again of the ridiculously hurtful statement, “You are so lucky” that many women hear after experiencing their own personal hell.
That loving, beautiful voice, who called me for advice this week, shared her gift with me.
“Amanda, as I felt for that sweet girl and her family, I relived my own attack from many years ago and something finally clicked as I watched the news coverage,” she said.
“I looked over at my precious young baby and realized, that’s what they meant. I am lucky. I still get to have a life. I was able to marry and go on to have a child. This child of mine is here because I was lucky my life wasn’t taken. I don’t want to spend the rest of it in fear. I am ready to feel alive”.
I am thrilled to assist her in moving past that type of pain.
As an intimacy coach, I know how quickly and how deeply this type of violation can shut you down.
Please, if not with me, get help somewhere if you are one of the millions affected by sexual trauma.
The effects of sexual trauma can include:
• Living in fear;
• Lacking passion; and
• Feeling not worthy of an amazing life.
The truth is that you are amazing. You are a gift. You deserve to feel confident, loved, worthy, and alive.
If you are feeling this way, please contact me. Let me show you how to find your worth.
A NOTE FOR MY MALE READERS:
I wrote the above note largely for the ladies but I know they are not alone in this. Research says that one in ten victims of sexual assault are men.
But those are not the only men who lose in this arena.
Many more men fall in love with, marry and even become parents with women who were attacked long before their relationship began. These women, believing they are doing the right thing, pretend that nothing ever happened until one day she can longer carry on this pretense. Suppressing this kind of trauma wears a person down. One day she will be watching TV and see a story like Hannah Graham’s or she’ll be in a crowd and get a whiff of the cologne her attacker had been wearing and she will be triggered. Once triggered, just about anything can happen.
Often, that reaction is aimed at her husband or partner, who knows nothing about what’s happening. These men bear the burden of the sexual trauma right alongside their wives. That can be soul-crushingly hard and confusing.
A male client of mine, who was working with me to learn how to care for both himself and his wife who had previously been assaulted, said, “It’s like doing prison time for another man’s crime.”
If you are a guy who has experienced sexual trauma or you are in a relationship with someone who has, my message is for you as well.
I would be honored to work with you to teach you how to support your wife and/or how to take care of yourself.
Trust me, you are a gift too and this has no right to stand between you and an amazing life!