finding our voice through trauma
Journal response to the article/posting “Speaking to Survive” by Martha Elena Llano Serna
Martha breaks her silence and tells her story of being raped in her home in the forests of Columbia where she resides. Although I found her experience nothing short of horrific, what caused my heart to break while reading her story was when she explained that rape was simply the cost of being born a woman in her country. Globally, all women share this danger of sexual assault. As a woman myself, I know what it like to have to always be aware of my surroundings and taking extra precaution as to not put myself in a situation where I am vulnerable to becoming a rape victim. However, the universe has given me the privilege of being born into an environment which offers me substantially more protection from sexual assault and although I am vulnerable to rape, for me, it is not guaranteed as a cost of being born a woman. For Columbian women, or any other country where the cost of being born a woman is rape, this must be a heavy burden to carry and I am deeply sorrowful for the price they pay as a woman.
As Martha tells of the aftermath of her rape, I identified with her emotions and her reaction to her trauma. I too have experienced my own kind of trauma and pain and have reacted similarly to those experiences as Martha had to hers. We both reacted to our traumas with silence and a general refusal to acknowledge or talk about painful experiences with the hope that they would disappear from our memory and from our souls. However, after many years of trying to rid my memory of my trauma and my heart of the pain, I fund that both the memories and the pain were a very big part of who I had become and forever would be if I did not begin the process of sharing and talking about my experiences. Since the person I had become was someone I was not happy being, I knew it was time to begin the process of healing and transformation.
Martha’s story of how she found her voice again after her period of silence empowered and validated me and my search for my voice post trauma. When she spoke of using her voice to make her life lighter and her relationships stronger, I knew exactly of what she means. These traumas, when we keep them inside of us, isolate us from the rest of the world. We build so many defense walls around us that it is hard for others to connect with us on an intimate level and our relationships never grow. Once we find our voice and the healing process begins, so does the deconstruction of our defensive walls and our ability to connect with others on an intimate level allows more fulfilling relationships, relationships that will help us grow and heal.
Once we are healed, have found our voice, and have developed intimate relationships, we can use these new tools to propel our voice and help in the healing of other women and the finding of their voice. Humanity needs a coalition of healthy women who can use their voices to lead us in a new direction, women who refuse to be silent and wallow in the pain of traumas inflicted by men and a patriarchal society.
I applaud Martha for sharing her story and taking her healing into her own hands. This kind of sharing is not easy and in the early stages of our healing, the retelling of our traumas induces painful emotions. I am filled with inspiration by her story and filled with the hope that more women will find their voice and use it well.