What will you say?

Kirthi
Posted November 13, 2019 from India

Earlier this year, I reconnected with an old friend. Our conversation was regular, run-off-the-mill, touching upon our every day lives, when things took a different turn. Something brought up an old memory of abuse at the hands of a person in power, and I felt safe enough to share it with her. What started off as a safe space closed in on me, leaving me feeling suffocated and silenced with the sound of her response ricocheting off the walls of my mind: “But surely, a person of such stature couldn’t have done that without you asking for it.”

Aside from the discomfort and the triggered memories, I was left with a sense of fear of meeting people who may not understand, or who may respond in a way that retriggers painful and difficult impacts. She left me with difficult questions. How do we cultivate empathy in a way that builds lasting circles of solidarity and inclusion? How do we strive to support those around us that have faced assault, abuse, and harassment, and are working toward shaping their own healing journeys?

We’ve grown up understanding that sticks and stones may break no bones but leave no less a destructive impact in their wake. And yet, we have also socialized ourselves into becoming callous in our response to survivors, especially, of sexual assault and harassment. The writing is on the wall, be it through the news or in conversations around us: sexual assault, harassment, abuse, and violence continue around us, often covertly, often by those in positions of relative power, and often, as repetitive occurrences. And yet, we respond poorly to survivors, most often without thinking enough to educate ourselves.

This made us think, deeply.

Through Saahas, we try to create spaces of safety for survivors to find, access, and rely on support specific to their needs in the aftermath of any form of gender-based violence. Language is powerful: it has the capacity to evoke tears with as much ease as it has to put a person in comfort. Using it in a way that helps, heals, and makes peace can go a long way in creating and nurturing safe spaces. To extend this further, we partnered with a brilliant initiative in our city, called The Mithra Trust, and crafted an extension of their existing “What to Say” series, where we drew up common problematic responses to stories of sexual assault, and recast them into what we should be saying, instead. Today, this repertoire is available in 10 languages. We’d love to have them translated into more languages, too, so if you can translate the deck into a language you don’t see on this list, do write to us on info@redelephantfoundation.org.

http://bit.ly/WTSArabic

http://bit.ly/WTSEnglish

http://bit.ly/WTSFrench

http://bit.ly/WTSGerman

http://bit.ly/WTSHindi

http://bit.ly/WTSJapanese

http://bit.ly/WTSKannada

http://bit.ly/WTSMalayalam

http://bit.ly/WTSSpanish

http://bit.ly/WTSSwahili

http://bit.ly/WTSTamil

http://bit.ly/WTSTelugu

Comments 10

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Jill Langhus
Nov 13
Nov 13

Kirthi!!

How are you doing, love? Wow! I'm sorry you had to experience that, dear, but I'm very happy to hear about this development in your Saahas initiative.

You may want to consider submitting this story for the current "IStandWithHer" story call:
https://www.worldpulse.com/raise-your-voice/istandwithher

I hope you're doing well, and having a great week!

XX

Kirthi
Nov 13
Nov 13

Thank you sweet Jill. I will do that now.

Jill Langhus
Nov 13
Nov 13

You're very welcome, honey:-)

Great!

XX

Hello, Kirthi,

Oh, wow, I'm sorry you experience that kind of response from a friend. But you are such a deep thinker. You were able to turn that experience into a marvelous tool on " What to Say" to survivors. You're a beautiful and caring genius, dear sister!

Thank you for creating an app that helps people learn empathy. We love you, dear! We are proud of you! Thank you for everything you are doing to women, for women, by women, and with women. Hugs!

Anita Shrestha
Nov 14
Nov 14

WOw

Lisbeth
Nov 15
Nov 15

Dear Kirthi,
I relate to most of your point. Especially regarding not trusting anyone who might not understood.
Kirthi you are a brave courageous woman. I know how the feeling is. How are you doing as in today?
I hope you are doing very well. My kind regards to you and have a great weekend.
Take care of yourself
Hugs

lizzymark
Nov 15
Nov 15

Its hard an experience Kirthi,but good that you are able and are working towards helping others that may be in such situation. I hope you grow and increase. I agree with Jill that you submit the story on the current "IstandwithHer"

Ekitah
Nov 18
Nov 18

Hi Kirthi!
Thanks for sharing this story with us. You are powerful thats why you could transform your loss into and opportunity. Today you are great! Thank God for your courage.

Usha K.C.
Nov 19
Nov 19

HI Kirthi,
Happy to know that now you have built such courage( Saahas) to speak up . thank you for sharing with us dear.
keep going

Beth Lacey
Nov 20
Nov 20

Oh, Kirthi, I am so sorry your friend isn't more enlightened.