Life Lessons with Monica: Trauma and Injustice
She was brought into the court room, having spent what seemed her whole life preparing for this one pivotal moment. Stepping on the stand, raising her right hand, she swore to tell the truth. Facing the judge, she was asked a series of yes or no questions:
Do you understand what a lie is?
Do you understand why you are here?
Do you understand that I make the final decision?
After the questions were asked, in that moment, the judge had the choice, allow her voice to be heard or not. She was excused from the court room. Left in the hall while the judge decided her fate, her voice, her story, and her trauma were not shared by her, trivialized and marginalized by her abusers, unwillingly silenced by her advocates.
Too many times in the “justice” system, those who are hurt never get their story heard. Abusers, molesters, manipulators, and narcissists get more say in what their “rights” to access to their victims are above and beyond the traumas suffered. Emotional trauma, mental trauma, these are things that are deemed unimportant. Yet we live in a world in which suicide rates are climbing and everyone wonders why these things occur. Victims have no protection within the confines of Child Protective Services, they have no protection by the police, and they have no protection within the four walls of a court room.
An abusive father successfully manages to never have to answer for his crimes. Perjuring himself, he manages to receive no repercussions of those actions. Lies to a federal court, he receives only what he asked for, without punishment. An argument gets made in which other molesters and abusers are allowed to see and access their victims more than this abuser and molester are able to see theirs, and the courts decided the argument was sufficient to force the innocent, powerless children back to the life they fought to be free of.
People are up in arms about wearing masks being a removal of civil liberties. A sensation that something important is removed from their being by having to take into consideration other people outside themselves. The governmental powers worldwide are beseeching the public to stand up and think about their fellow man on a daily basis. Consider the damage that could potentially be done by the simple act of walking out the door, breathing on another human being, and the chance that your breath could kill another human being, a stranger, out on the street. This is what we are being called to consider, yet simultaneously, these same powerful forces are responsible for miscarriages of justice that lead to lifetimes of trauma and are the unseen hands behind the razor blades, the bullets loaded into the gun, the water washing down the pills of the people who fought to be seen and heard and were instead ignored for the rights of the ones hurting them.
We all talk about trauma at some point in our lives, yet there seems to be a complete disconnect regarding the nature of trauma. Trauma is not always one singular incident in which it has left a lasting impression. Sometimes trauma is akin to a slow boil. Put a pot of water on the stove, turn the heat on, watch as the water slowly takes in the heat. One small bubble appears at the bottom, and then a second, and a third, accumulating more and more. These small bubbles slowly working to the surface before erupting, yet the water is not at a full rolling boil. Putting in noodles at this point means a longer cooking time, so you obviously wouldn’t do that, you wait until the water is at a full roll. After a long enough duration of time, under continued heat the water is going to come to a full boil. Trauma is much the same. Emotional trauma in particular.
One person can endure a moment in which they are emotionally traumatized, one moment in which their faith in the person who is meant to love them, hurts them instead. That can be repaired if all parties are involved. Yet emotional trauma often is not relegated to a singular moment, it is a build-up of menacing behaviors, gaslighting, demeaning comments, diminishing of emotions, and continued threat of the potential for harm. Sometimes there are moments of physical harm occurring during these building moments, sometimes there aren’t, yet the damage to the victim is no less than if they had been beaten bloody. Trauma is not something to be quantified, it is not something to be relegated to specificity, it is not something to ever be marginalized or trivialized.
Going back to the water on the stove, when the boiling point is hit, and instead of making the noodles, you remove the water from the heat, the water will return to its original temperature, if you leave it on the heat without adding anything to it, slowly the water will evaporate. If you remove the water, and then return it to the heat, the same process of build-up and then boil will occur. This is a concept we all grow up understanding. It is science. Now apply the exact concept to trauma.
There are only two methods to cease the water from boiling, remove the water from the heat, or make the heat cease being what it is. In the sense of water and heat, you cannot change the heat, in the sense of the abuser, there is only one person who has the power to stop, that is the abuser. Faith and hope is powerful, however, no one is responsible for the abuser other than the abuser. The justice system won’t enforce anything that can’t be guaranteed to be done, and oftentimes abusers don’t see anything wrong with what they do. “Why should how you respond to what I say to you be my problem?” being their continued stance. They are allowed to continue in the course of their life under the guise of it being their “rights.”
Who among the masses are going to start listening to the small voices crying out for sanctuary? Who among you are going to hear the crying of the men, women, and children who are suffering at another’s hands? Who among you are going to stand up and fight for their rights to be heard? Threatening a dissolution at the age of adulthood, as though the years in between don’t matter in regards to the ones suffering. How is this justice? When did society fall so far that we forgot to listen to our children? We tell them that they are to respect their elders, yet we as the elders must embark upon a course of action in which we are doing respectful things.
Emotional trauma, over the course of a lifetime, is far more damaging than a singular moment in time. Emotional trauma creates an illusion of fault upon the shoulders of the sufferer. This fault is internalized, magnified, and the sufferer becomes their own abuser in turn, far too often. This is why there is the semi-colon movement. To remind those who are suffering to keep going, just as an author will keep a sentence which should have ended going. We are all missing the point with it. The semi-colon movement is a beautiful thing, a hopeful thing, in place for after the fact. What about in the midst of it all? In the midst of it all, when chance arrives to rescue those who are suffering, to stop the process completely, our systems in place, do not do what the semi-colon movement does. Our systems aid the ones who created the environment in which the semi-colon movement needed to come to fruition. It is part of the problem, while standing in the fallacy of being a part of the solution.
Trauma is not quantifiable, it is not to be marginalized. Trauma is dangerous and pervasive. It is a struggle, a hardship, damaging, and painful. Children are ignored, women are ignored, men are ignored, all suffering trauma. Silencing victims, being part of the trauma pattern, forcing undo harm upon those suffering, and calling it justice, that is what is wrong with our system. That is what needs to be changed. Let the victim’s stories be told, let their voices be heard, stand up for them, and fight for their freedom from the chains of their abusers. When this isn’t done, it is not only a miscarriage of justice, but it is also truly and completely contributory to TRAUMA.