Letters to the Editor

Letters: True sisterhood means listening, empathizing with survivors

To the Editor:

Much has happened in the past year and especially these past two weeks involving women who tell their stories about sexual abuse.

I keep hearing the term “sisterhood” meaning the support of other women and I’m wondering where that sisterhood is — exactly— for so many of us.  

And for me.

I’m “me too.” Molested as a child in my own home.  And I made a big mistake to say that out loud 70 years later to my sister, and on another occasion to someone I called friend.

I was met both times with silence. A stare. A blink. A shrug. The subject changed. My story was dismissed. It was as if I had not even said those words.

How many times has this happened to others? At work, over lunch, in the car, on the phone?

The response of silence, the dismissal so obvious in their facial expressions. “Well, what do you expect me to say to THAT?” “It was so long ago.” “Forget it.” “Give it a rest.”  “Move on.”  “Why did you tell me something like that?” “You know stuff like that is changing now."

The wound goes deeper. Trust evaporates. Nothing is the same now between us.

So please, if you are a mother, a sister, a cousin, a co-worker, classmate or tennis partner say at the very least what is said at a funeral.

“I’m so sorry.” “It must be so painful for you.” “So hard to bear. Such a nightmare.”  

Then listen. Give space for the story to be told.

It’s a part of who we are. Who I am. I trusted you as never before.

Don’t run. Don’t hide. Have the courage to stay there and listen because telling you took so much more courage than you’ll ever know.

That’s “sisterhood.” 

Barbara Marian


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