speak up

Why people don’t speak up sooner


There have been a lot of sexual harassment, sexual assaults and other inappropriate actions appearing in the news. A lot of people have been asking “Why now?” and “Why didn’t they say something sooner?” I have never been in these situations but I have struggled in the past with sharing about my mental illness to others. It was not something easy to do. I only did it because I couldn’t hold or hide it anymore. Here are my reasons why it took so long to speak up…

Ridiculed

It’s so easy for others to doubt and discredit everything you say. You know without a doubt that it’s the truth but others throw it back into our face. They will make fun of us and also tease us about our struggle. They will also start making us doubt ourselves and this is the worst thing for us to do. There is a huge stigma that surrounds our struggles than tends to suffocate us.

Why do we believe someone that says “I broke a bone” and not someone who says “I was assaulted” or “I have depression”? Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean that it’s not real. Why don’t we ever think someone is lying while they have a cast on their arm? Seriously, please take a moment to ponder on this!!

Misconception

Unless you have been through it, it’s very hard to explain it to you. Imagine you are teaching someone math and they have no clue what numbers are. That’s what it’s like for me trying to explain mental illness to others. This is also the same struggle others have when sharing about their inappropriate sexual experiences. How are they supposed to speak up when others will not truly understand what they are going through?

There is also the misconception that they did something to cause the inappropriate sexual experience. Do you really think I did something to cause the depression and anxiety I battle with every day? Hell no!!! Same goes for the people that have been harassed or assault. They did nothing to have it happen to them. It’s time to stop blaming the victim for what happened.

Fear

This is the biggest one for me. I believe it’s also the biggest one for others too. There is a lot we put on the line when we finally step out and speak up. Before we ever get to this point, there are endless hours on scenarios that we try to predict and play out in our own minds. This is what causes the beginning of our fear. We have tried to control our own situations for years and not knowing how others will react, freaks us out!!

Here’s a small sample of the chaos taking place in our own minds:

  • What if they don’t believe me?
  • What if they leave / disown me?
  • Are they going think I am crazy?
  • Is this for real or am I just making this up?
  • Am I making this out to be bigger than it really is?
  • Will anyone truly love me after I speak up and share my struggle(s)?
  • Etc…

To someone that hasn’t dealt with our struggle(s), these questions might seem silly to them. To us though, these are very important because we don’t want to be alone and abandoned. It’s hard enough to battle with this ourselves. It becomes even more difficult when someone leaves us after they find out the truth.

We might seem fine on the outside but there’s a mask we put on to hide our pains and struggles. If someone takes the time to speak up to you, please be compassionate and nonjudgmental. This will dramatically help everyone in the end. We are screaming internally for someone to just take the time to hear us. The more we share it, the stronger we become. Hope this helps others understand so we can begin to end the stigma. Until my next blog post… Share. Inspire. Conquer.

The Red Tea Detox





2 Comments

  • Lisa A Listwa (#)
    December 22nd, 2017

    I think you hit this spot-on, Thomas. Fear is a huge factor. I’ve not experienced this sort of thing, but I can think of other circumstances where I did not divulge information for fear of others’ perceptions of me, of the situation, etc. We all have our struggles and whatever they are, sharing them (or not) is such a huge decision. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Bryce Warden (#)
    December 22nd, 2017

    Fear is a factor. Also, keep in mind that ten, twenty or more years ago, sexual harassment was so prevalent that it was going against the “norm” in many cases to report it. As a teenager in the mid 80’s I complained about a manager who would request hugs from all the female cashiers. This man was old enough to be my Grandfather, he would often comment about chest size after a hug. It was gross and I called him out on it and told the store manager. Guess who was looked down on after that…me, not him. People said I was overreacting because I didn’t want some guy 60 years my senior commenting about my cup size after a hug. I learned after that to find a dignified way to deescalate situations like that in the future. It didn’t matter so much for that job however, when I was moving through the corporate ladder I had to be extra careful. I never dated or flirted with anyone I worked because I always wanted to keep those parts of my life separate. That said I had to deal with plenty of BS from men much older and more powerful than me in every single job.

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