I started my own case. We went public with our names and stories. I was loud on social media, which led to other students messaging me about their issues. I wondered about those who may want to speak but remain anonymous, and those who want to be loud but have no platform. So, I began an Instagram account for people from my university to share their negative experiences. They could submit stories, anonymously if preferred, to be posted, and they could message just to talk. Starting this page led to the finding of dozens of similar accounts. It was encouraging to hear and see so many people like me. I felt and knew I was not alone. But that realisation was also incredibly upsetting. How can there be so many? And with similar patterns emerging, having not only been pained by their perpetrators, but by those in positions to help?
I learned what I could about the system in place at my university that allowed unqualified people to run incompetent investigations. Then, about the legal system that allows universities freedom to squash survivors for self serving purposes.
This must and will be changed.
Speaking with administrators of platforms and those that use them I have faith that that the many are more powerful than the few, especially when we connect.
As a way to lighten my mood, I had pictured my burden as a fruitcake: stodgy, sticky, and unwanted. To be seen as a “powerful” survivor, I felt that this apparently ugly emotion must be shed. It’s unimaginative or petty to be unable to simply throw it in the bin. But that is not true. My caloric anger gave me the energy to fight for others and fight for myself. My fire burned the fat and left behind angel cake. The load was still present, but much sweeter. To share it lines the stomachs of those beside me and gives us strength. Emotion is power and can spread, slice by slice.
The hardest anger to shift has been the anger towards myself. It was easy to be loud when I knew doing so would help others, but I didn’t believe it was worth it if I was the only one affected. I was fighting for those who came before and after me, and I deserved to include myself. Supporting others is a gift. It can change the life of those you give it to, it can change the world. We are worthy of giving that same empathy and energy to ourselves. Everything you feel and to the degree you feel it after trauma is valid, and you can use it. Make friends with your anger, it’s a reminder that you are alive and worth the fight.