*trigger warning for discussion of rape*
So this is for those people who fail to consider other people before looking for their own emotional resolution. Those people who demand closure or their emotions handled when the epicentre of something bad happened to someone else they know. I do get that generally we are self centred individuals who think about our own suffering before others, but we should perhaps consider not opening our mouths when someone else has every reason to be suffering or grieving more than we do ourselves.
It is not the job of the person/s who are in the epicentre of some terrible event to consider the feelings of other people who are peripheral to the epicentre. The epicentre sucks, and the concentric circles of closeness from that event also suck, but they suck less and less than the epicentre.
Let me give some examples, one that I’ve experienced myself even. When a partner of 18 months left me to be monogamous with his other partner, someone I had hoped to receive some sympathy from when I told them the news was upset with me because I didn’t think of her feelings in telling her this news. She expected me to sympathise with her over the loss of a potential relationship she might have had versus the actual relationship I’d lost. She was angry that I didn’t sympathise with her, even though I was completely unaware of her potential relationship. She’d made it all about her and failed to consider where the epicentre of hurt was in this instance.
Another scenario, one I’ve heard more than once, when a relationship breaks down and someone not in the relationship exclaims their disappointment at the relationship breaking down, wanting some kind of support for their pain over hearing that the relationship is over, without any consideration for what the person is telling them feels about it.
Just like when someone discloses to you that they’ve been raped, the focus should not be on the listener’s feelings about the whole issue:
Maintain the focus on her. This is tricky, because each rape victim is unique and the response they need from you may vary from person to person. I have in the past said not to react with anger, because that puts the victim in the position of having to talk someone down from committing murder or assault, but I’ve since heard from rape victims who felt that anger in response to their stories was helpful and cathartic. So I will amend my earlier statement to say that expressing emotion, even strong emotion, is probably fine, but do it while remembering that this moment isn’t about you so much as it is about the victim. Communication is very valuable here: “I’m going to kill him!” is very very unlikely to be helpful, but saying “I know this isn’t about me, but I’m just so furious at him. Is there anything I can do for you?” is one way of expressing strong emotion while still affirming that you are there to help the victim, rather than she being there to talk you down from homicide or console you at being confronted with rape culture*. [ana mardoll’s ramblings]
So, if it isn’t about you, don’t make it about you. Be there for the person at the epicentre of tragedy, because if that was you, you’d want exactly that. Don’t make the person/s at the epicentre have to care for you and take time away from processing their own emotions and reactions about the tragedy, don’t give them more work in having to care about you.
This has been your friendly PSA for the week.
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