I tweeted late last night that I wouldn’t be blogging about Max Clifford.
And yet, here I am, 24 hours later writing a blog about … Max Clifford.
Why? Well …
Yesterday I was quite busy. I had a morning meeting for work, then met some people for lunch and then ended up at some more lovely peoples house for a cuppa which led to tea and evening chatter. I didn’t check my twitter all day. I know, I know. It didn’t seem to be working in the morning anyway, and then I just actually didn’t have time.
So it was not until I got home fairly late last night that I found quite a few messages sent to me about the Max Clifford verdict. And some were asking for my response. My thoughts. If I was going to be writing anything about it, and how I felt about it.
I was largely disconnected from ‘online’ life yesterday – but because I was expecting an important call I was checking my phone a fair amount so as soon as the guilty verdicts were announced and BBC Breaking News flashed it up on my phone, I knew about it, as did the people I was with because it went straight to their phones too.
So I was aware. And yes, I was relieved. Because for months, time after time we have seen high profile cases going to court and a constant barrage of ‘not guilty’ which then leads to horrific victim blaming. I still don’t have any faith in our current legal system with regards to how it supports and seeks justice for people who have survived abuse. So, yes I was relieved to feel that maybe hopefully I wouldn’t need to spend the next day or two defending women and men who have been abused who are being called the most awful things because a ‘not guilty’ verdict apparently = innocence of the perpetrator (which I don’t believe). A not guilty verdict does not = innocence – it often simply equals that some technicality has meant they got off. Or ‘not enough evidence’ (do you know how hard it is to provide ‘ENOUGH’ evidence to a court of abuse/sexual abuse/rape?!).
Anyway – back to why I’m writing a blog about not writing a blog …
I was really honoured, moved and felt valued that people were messaging me and asking for my thoughts. That they felt my voice was and is important enough to be heard, and that they genuinely wanted to hear it. I was really honoured that people remember my initial writings in the immediate aftermath of the Savile expose and that I had written one or two blogs that got incredibly wide readership. I’m honoured that they felt they could contact me, to ask for a response in the context of Max Clifford being found guilty being the first conviction since the set up of Yewtree, and the investigations taking place post Savile.
I responded to people as personally as I could explaining that I didn’t intend on blogging/writing or particularly engaging with the conversations taking place especially on twitter. I didn’t feel I needed to give an explanation.
And yet they felt I should have. Given an explanation. So today, whilst I have been largely away from my phone (again, shock horror it isn’t actually tied to my neck) and whilst I have been busy working and doing stuff I got quite a few more messages back.
A few of them have accused me of being silenced. A few of them have accused me of not using the voice I’ve been given. A few of them have accused me of distancing myself and not continuing to represent women affected by abuse. And a few of them seem to feel that I have let someone/something/some people down? I’m not quite sure why or how but that would be the theme coming from one or two messages – simply because I have said I am not able to engage with this topic in the depth that they were expecting/wanted.
And this is why –
I had a really bad weekend. A really really bad weekend. Friday night I found myself having a flashback which totally takes me off track for a bit and sends my mind into a whirl. So it has been a tough few days. And yesterday I found myself spending some time with some great people, thinking about some upcoming stuff and then time with some more great people just chatting/sharing etc. I was hugely impacted by some of the conversations. And challenged by some too. So driving home before I saw all these messages I was thinking about my identity. And my identity online. And the fact that actually, before Christmas I made the conscious decision to stop writing under the pseudonym I had adopted and written many things using. I decided to become ‘Helen’ online and offline. And learn how to be vulnerable offline too instead. Any many things spurred that. But I remember in the midst of the many things that were spurring this change, was someone phone me, who I love, trust and respect a lot and asking me if I had considered whether I was becoming defined by the identity I had created/was creating – and was I becoming defined by being a survivor. And it was quite a ‘moment’ because up until that point that was all I believed I was. I was nothing else. I had nothing else. But they spoke into my life and made me realise I am MORE than a survivor. Being a survivor is part of my story. Its not it all. Being a survivor is part of who I am. But it is not the whole of me. There is more to be than abuse. Rape. Suicide. Depression. All the things I consistently wrote about as ‘fragz’. I am more than those things. And so for a while I stopped writing about those things. I spent time moving forwards and actually it coincided with being pretty sick most of the time and not really writing much about anything anyway. But over the last few months I’ve began to re engage with all the things I am passionate about I’m passionate about seeing women treated as equals in society, passionate about speaking out against violence against women, and raising issues of abuse and rape. I’m also starting to write again more of my journey, my story and the current journey I am on. I love writing. And I will continue to do as and when its right.
BUT in all of that I’m also starting and learning to self care a bit more. And I am also learning and starting to learn that actually whilst I am beginning to recognise I do have a voice, and would love to work on using that more proactively in the future years that actually there are just times when its ‘right’ to not have anything to say. That sometimes self care is important. That whilst my voice is valued by the people contacting me to hear it, that actually I have the power to say ‘NO’ , and not feel I ‘have to’ tweet/write about something and that actually that is OK.
Its not that I DONT have anything to say – its just that I am choosing not to throw myself in at the deep end and engage on a personal level every single time there is a case in the media, or a high profile celebrity has been found not guilty/ or guilty as is the case this week or a particular theme trending. Don’t get me wrong – I do engage ALOT of the time, but just sometimes its right to back off.
One of the things I am learning on my journey especially with social media is how to pick your battles wisely, and that is so true in terms of disagreements but actually also true on many levels in terms of what we choose to engage with.
I choose not to read articles by certain people/groups on particular topics late at night now. I choose not to follow certain people who often tweet things I find quite difficult to see in my timeline. I choose to attempt to look after myself better.
And that goes for this week. That goes for why I am not engaging specifically with the Max Clifford conversations. Its why I am not sat reading tweets with the hashtag of his name. Its why I tweeted just a couple of tweets last night and intended not to think about it again this week. Because just this week, I don’t need it. I don’t need to be constantly thinking about abuse. I don’t need to be constantly thinking about how poorly treated victims of sexual assault are treated and how society as a whole blames the victims more than the perpetrators. I actually just don’t need it. And so I’m choosing not to be as proactively outspoken this week as I sometimes have been in the past. And how I sometimes am generally. And I’m sure, maybe even in a day or two something will come up I feel strongly about and will want to discuss, tweet, write about etc. But please don’t attack for me for what I choose to or to not be involved with.
I’m thankful some people contacting me have been able to respect that, and hope the ones who don’t seem to read this and perhaps understand slightly more.
Well said Helen. I think the key to a lot of self care if you are at all ‘prophetic’ – ie speaking truths that people may find hard to hear – is ‘pick your battles wisely’. Unfortunately a lot of online interaction is conflict driven – it’s very wise to avoid unnecessary conflicts or, as the saying has it, to ‘keep your powder dry’. X
As an abuse survivor myself I try not to read news stories about this kind of thing. It is hard because those around me want to discuss them. It is hard for me to say why I don’t want to know