As undeniable as it gets, we encounter many situations every day which demands our attention. We go through ghastly offensive moments that are downright disrespectful, objectionable and abusive during our lives but we often fail to attend to our emotions or stand up for ourselves. It can get really hard to unravel the factors that guide the question: Why don’t we stand up for ourselves? I did come up with a valued understanding behind the same. There can be varied explanations against the same as well too.
There is an inbuilt fear and terror within us which acts instinctively when an offensive situation takes place. Until the occurrence, you had no idea that it was going to happen to you and you still believed in the goodness of the world you were living in .Now, when in just the next second the incident takes place, your brain ,the entire reflex organization, on the other hand, is still a believer and resident of the world you believed in once. So you choose to stay there and reject the moment of occurrence. Often people hardly realize that it has happened to them and research analysis says that sometimes it can take years. The instantaneous reaction to an offensive incident can never be predicted because you are not prepared for such an occurrence.
When the perpetrator is someone they trusted, it can take years for victims even to identify what happened to them as a violation.- The NEW YORK TIMES
We believe what we want to, especially when it was someone you knew. Sometimes we are unaware of the whole process of violation- identification so much so that we choose to stay in the world of denial and trust that “This can’t be it ” or “It’s okay, I will let it pass and be good myself”. This is called the failure of identification and acceptance, that it had happened and it had happened to you. This is the first, most common, evolutionary step that had been inculcated by most victims.
“The truth of it is, the shame was not mine, and for all victims in similar situations, it is not ours. The shame is reserved for every creep who has ever touched us inappropriately. The shame is on the abuser, not the victim, not the survivor. It is tragic that so many of us have to survive this kind of crap, and I’m so sorry if it has happened to you.”-Rose McGowan, Brave
Again when something offensive happens to you , although you accept and identify that you were violated, you end up feeling at fault. You feel helpless, disappointed, you end up being psyched up about the same and end up in total despair because you do not know what to do about it or how to even proceed. We get into the whole cycle of questioning self about the ‘how’ ,‘why’ and ‘when’ of it! Often we are unaware of the right or correct reaction to a particular situation since it is an alien occurrence and we wouldn’t know unless we go through a similar situation. Maybe we do not trust the fact if we should associate our whole life thinking about how to stand up, hence choosing to move on.
It has been seen that sometimes a comparison with someone else’s experience often leads them into believing that what they went through wasn’t a big deal , hence downplaying the trauma. Maybe, at times we just do not wish to lose to ourselves about our choices and decisions.
Neuro biological research has shown that the so-called fight-or-flight response to danger would more accurately be called “fight, flight or freeze.” And even after that initial response, victims can be rendered involuntarily immobile, becoming either paralyzed or limp as a result of the brain’s and the body’s protective response.
Now let’s say we end up accepting and finally we gather the courage to stand up for ourselves or report the person who had offended you but let’s be honest here, don’t we have the fear of the consequences or repercussion of the action?If I take a stand then it is bound to have unavoidable consequences which include undeniable comments, judgement, shame because we have to keep that in mind that the offender will try to deny the accusation no matter what, question your sanity, the fear of your parents knowing things that you never wanted them to know, fear of how this will highlight you in the society and might affect your future in this process. We don’t usually have evidence, and we don’t want your subjective biases determining the outcome of a “he said, she said” debate. Sometimes the victim remains friendly with the abuser because they are projected with certain insecurities and fear of actions and that is sadly inevitable.
“Blaming the victim is an act of refuge and self-deception. It allows the blamer to sit in judgment, imagining some mystical justice that means bad things happen only to bad people, thus ensuring their own safety.”- Una-Becoming Unbecoming
The fear of consequences will get you so delusional and confused that you will end up doubting yourself , your state of mind and go back to the phase where you would just think “this is a futile exercise” . We undergo manipulation during this phase.This can happen in relationships where you choose to believe the good , the memories once shared and end up rejecting the treatment and abuse that you are constantly projected to and eventually fear the consequences that include denial, tampering of witness (if any)or evidence (threat calls as well especially when they are power abusers), major disbelief or even in workplaces because the retaliation can include losing a job in which you had invested years and variable.
“Victims think that it was their fault, so in many cases they want continued contact,” said Roderick MacLeish, a Boston lawyer who has represented hundreds of victims of abuse by Catholic priests and schoolteachers. “- The New York Times
SO the more we find ourselves not standing up at that instant , the more we settle into the cycle of disbelief ,shame ,denial. But the fear of speaking up or standing up for self is real and this is true. We have all heard about cases where even when they stood up for themselves , the facts were invaded , besmirched, they were framed in a series of lies and finally it landed up in Victim blaming.Speaking up means committing a tremendous amount of time and energy, and taking huge risks. The reporting and investigation take time (even years), in a process likely to humiliate us.We’ll have to repeatedly deal with the abuser, repeat the ugly things he/she said or did to us, and fear his/her reprisals including a potential lawsuit. The lone accusers are easier to dismiss.
The whole phenomena of Standing up for self gets burdened by a lot of other factors that guide our life . Even if you couldn’t stand up for yourself back then that again does not necessarily mean that you do not believe in it . Your beliefs and principles can be very tough to protect against the nauseating environment which has swallowed your peace and well being .
“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence — From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror
You have been through enough .In my opinion it is best that you talk about the situation at-least to your guardian ,senior, a trusted friend ,family member or if at all you do not really know how to act on a certain situation you can seek help from the organisations or via online counselling .It is absolutely okay to not know how to react or stand up based on the factors that I have mentioned but speak about it to your trusted ones because if not today then when? The longer we wait to stand up the more likely it is for them to disbelief.
“Survivors who don’t stand up for themselves often develop physical and emotional illnesses. Many become depressed because they feel so hopeless and helpless about being able to change their lives. They turn their anger inward and become prone to headaches, muscle tension, nervous conditions and insomnia.”
― Beverly Engel, The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused — And Start Standing Up for Yourself
At the end of the year 2016 , the pending cases went up to 133,813, an increase of 12.5%; it indicates a very poor rate of conviction.- NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau)
It is never okay. Even today there are more unreported than reported.