About three weeks after I realized I was a ritual abuse survivor, a woman disclosed to me. She was thirty-five years younger than I was, but I felt instantly at home with her, more so than I ever had with anybody in my whole life. That internal voice that tirelessly intones, “What’s the matter with you?” fell silent. My very first instance of social comfort!
I’ve had many many more periods of social comfort since then. Some were with this first friend, who I hope to see again some day. I feel that way whenever I am with a ritual abuse survivor, male or female, gay or straight, old, young, in-between.
This year, I went to the Survivorship conference and reconnected with old friends that I hadn’t seen in person for years. After about five minutes of shyness, I felt instantly at home. We picked up right where we left off! I met several people I knew only through e-mail and got to know still more people. It’s a real treat to be surrounded by a hundred people like myself, a hundred people who can understand just about anything I say, who aren’t shocked by my weird sense of humor, who know where I am coming from and trust that I know where they are coming from.
So much peace and pleasure has come from the company of survivors, so much mutual understanding, so much shared laughter and tears. We understand each other, we finish each other’s sentences. It is such a blessing to feel “normal,” if even for a few moments.
I want others to have the pleasure of belonging, and that is why I encourage people to reach out to each other, make contact, talk, overcome their terror of being known for who they are. And if we come together politically, across national borders, across religious, racial, and class divides . . . if we join with survivors of genocide, political torture, sexual slavery. . . if we raise our collective voice in simple truth and outrage . . . we might just change the world.