Last night I had the privilege to represent sexual abuse/sexual
assault/rape and incest survivors at our National Crime Victims' Rights
Week. It was an honor to stand up and speak on behalf of survivors in our
county. They were all with me in spirit as I spoke, with knees knocking
and heart pounding...for we were getting the secrets out....we were
challenging the community to help survivors of these violent and
life-changing crimes to heal. My heart lifts with hope that one day we
won't need gatherings such as these!
What follows are the words I spoke at the vigil. The audience was moved and several of the policemen from the honor guard came up and cried when they said thank you...my heart was touched, and hopeful that things could be changed....if we as a community work together....IMAGINE!!!!
Today I'm really raging, my heart is filled with hate.
Do you know just what you did when you raped a child of eight?
Four of you against one child, did you all feel big and bold?
Oh, you rotten bastards, I was only eight years old!
There wasn't any part of me you did not violate;
Your words were filled with red-hot rage, your actions filled with hate.
Before that awful summer day, I still knew how to trust
But all of you stripped that away with every painful thrust!
I've kept that shameful secret, Since I was eight years old,
Always feeling less than, never feeling whole.
After more than thirty years, the secret was too much,
Living still afraid of love, still in fear of touch.
The day when I remembered I was filled with shame...
Angry that I'd let it happen, overcome with violent pain.
I shared that awful secret, with someone I knew would care;
I told of pain and shame and rage, of hurting and despair.
Somehow once I told her, and found she was still there,
I drew from the love she gave, and I began again to care.
Although right now I'm raging, I'm determined to survive.
As I begin forgiving, I know I'll feel alive.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! DRUNK DRIVING! HOMICIDE! SEXUAL ASSAULT! RAPE! INCEST!
All ways that we as human beings hurt each other! That we come together to speak out about these crimes is healing and empowering.....that we need to saddens me beyond words!
My name is Lynne Newman and I am a survivor of this violent rape as well as incest, emotional and physical abuse in my childhood home, lasting from before I could talk until age 17 1/2 when I left home to live on my own. Before starting therapy, my life felt defined by the abuse. Now my identity is more clear and multi-faceted. I am courageous woman, a mother of two grown sons, a therapist and Reiki practitioner at the Pastoral Counseling Center in Slate Hill, and a volunteer at Mental Health Association in Orange County's Rape Survivor Advocacy program.
I wrote this poem in March of 1991 when I began healing from years of keeping secrets...the long term repercussions of the abuse were profound...they left me living in fear that I'd be hurt, afraid to trust, experiencing flashbacks and nightmares and depression and a suicide attempt at age 15, and splitting into dissociated parts of myself in order to cope with the abuse. I steadily gained weight until I reached 347 pounds...which i thought protected me, but in reality, did not. I was full of pain and rage and isolated myself from the world as much as possible. Until one day, when that became unbearable....I began working with a wonderful therapist and started on a healing journey that has changed my life. I've worked hard to heal and I am experiencing deep joy these days - something I never expected to know!
I am honored to be here representing survivors of rape, sexual assault, incest and childhood sexual abuse...all forms of SEXUAL VIOLENCE! Over and over again I witness the effects of the abuse on the human spirit AND it is a privilege to witness the courage and strength it takes to transform oneself from VICTIM to a SURVIVOR!
I don't talk about statistics....there are others to offer that information...I speak, instead, from my heart, as a survivor and now as a therapist working with many other courageous survivors. A rape is more than just a physical act...it is a violation of the very soul of an individual...ONE RAPE, ONE SEXUAL ASSAULT, ONE ACT OF INCEST OR OTHER CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE IS ONE TOO MANY!!! These assaults know no barriers...no socioeconomic, religious, ethnic group or gender is excluded. We read much in our newspapers about the dropping crime rate...it is imperative that we realize that thousands of sexual abuse, and incest and rape cases often go unreported....the rate of these crimes is not dropping!
Children are still being returned to homes where perpetrators reside..teenage date rape survivors often must return to school and be face to face with perpetrators on a daily basis...and rape is still happening within the marital relationship....
We need to work together, as a society to advocate for laws that protect and support survivors in their healing....we need to work together to stop blaming the victim/survivor! No woman, man or child deserves to be raped, incested or sexually assaulted....NOT EVER.....NOT EVER!!!
I close now with a poem, a personal plea during my own healing, and yet a universal invitation to touch each other, literally and figuratively, with reverance, not violence!
Please touch me gently,
For I have known the pain
Of violent hands!
If you touch me,
Touch me softly,
That I may learn to trust again!
Oh, touch me softly,
Now and always,
So I may learn that touch can soothe!
When you approach me,
Touch me gently,
And I will gently touch you, too!
-- Lynne Newman
All Poetry & Personal Writings:
© 1998 Lynne Newman