Unpopular Opinion: Anger is Necessary for Survivors.
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
I come from a deeply religious area of the world, with all of the problems and pleasures that you can imagine. A strong community that rallies around a single mother with cancer also viciously silences the boy sexually abused by the Boy Scout master. The Church that provides shelter for hurricane victims also eagerly listens to the preacher giving violent fire and brimstone speeches. The people who welcome a beautiful baby force that same child into homelessness because he comes out of the closet. The contradictions are bizarre and, more often than not, profoundly harmful.
One of the most damaging techniques used by these kinds of communities is celebrating the anger of the perpetrator and shaming the anger of the victim. The accused are righteous and offended but the victim is a spoiled, delusional brat. The victims must forgive their abusers or at least, stop talking about it, for the sake of the family, the community and ourselves. We are told we can’t be happy until we forgive. Anger is unattractive and will drive people away. We deserved what happened so we have no right to be angry. It never happened or we are exaggerating.
This is bull shit. FULL STOP
I use the word victim because a crime has occurred and we do not move from victim to survivor without safety and without justice. The preservation of the family and community at the expense of someone who has suffered at the hands of a criminal is vile enough. But the real mind fuck is shaming the victim’s anger because it denies us a path to survivorship.
If your house is broken into, we do not tell you to forgive the thief, at least not at first. We tell you to press charges and upgrade your security system. We tell you to seek safety and justice. Forgiveness, without justice and safety, does not motivate the victim to care for themselves or reduce their vulnerability. Anger does. When the victim can move through anger to find justice and safety, then she can heal. Then she is a survivor.