The link to the news article:
This last evening was one of the most difficult ones I have been through in a while. My mission to take my dance ‘Sacrilege of the Goddess’ across North America hit the most widely read English newspaper in Malaysia, my home country. I should have been happy.
A young friend of mine, an intern with the Star newspaper, reached out to me two days before. She had been looking for a story on New Year’s resolutions, and felt that mine was the most compelling, as the launching of my mission coincided with the New Year. She thought it would be inspirational for others to read about this. I agreed to an interview.
I was very nervous about the interview and kept interjecting, telling her that I did not want too many details about my own story to be put in. I was trying to keep her on the track of the mission I was on, but it was too easy to ask about the why behind the mission. The why was my own story. I survived childhood sexual abuse and three rapes. I knew the burden of the heavy chains that weighed down the survivor and made her a victim. I knew the only way to change this was to share my own story; yet, I hesitated.
I hesitated because I didn’t want everyone to know what happened to me. I hesitated because I didn’t know if my family would stand by me in my decision, or choose instead to cower in shame and disgust. I hesitated because I didn’t know if my work would actually bring about a change in the lives of others. I hesitated because I was afraid of the same thing that you are afraid of as well – the stigma.
“Too late now,” I thought to myself as I read the online version of the newspaper.
My name, my picture, my story were clearly printed for all to see. Obviously the young intern and I were not in agreement over the definition of discretion.
In my head, I heard the voices piping up already:
“Rape? What is this all about??”
“Why are you trying to bring shame upon our family?”
“She was raped? She doesn’t behave like a rape victim, not with her short skirts and flamboyant attitude!”
“You are not going to achieve anything by doing this!”
I hugged my knees tightly to my chest as these voices, the voices that have been silent for so long, began their barrage on my consciousness. I could almost see these people, and feel their united breath, down my neck. I was an ogre; a monument of filth. I was the outcast, the unwanted, the dirty, the Pariah. I was crumbling.
This is stigma.
That my story was now out there for the people of my country of origin to read, was enough to make me temporarily forget the true force that inspired me – the other little girls and women who are being sexually abused and raped right now.
I will not allow them to bear the weight of the stigma on their own.
If this means my story gets published for the public eye to read, then so be it. If this means that there will be people who are scornful of me, then so be it. If this means I will lose some friendships and some family ties, then so be it.
I believe in what I am doing. I trust my work will bring rape out of the closet and the raped women and girls, out of the ‘damaged’ bin in which they have been stuffed into. I am crazy enough to hope for a tomorrow that is different from today – a tomorrow in which society welcomes rape victims with open arms, and gives them the wings to soar above the pain they have experienced. I know I can do this, but not alone. Together, we can.
That young intern did the right thing. Where I feared to venture, she had opened the door for me to. I am human – I am being singed by the flames of stigma, but really, if you want to put out the fire, you have to be able to take the heat.
Thank you, Amanda. Thank you to all of those who are supporting me. Thank you for standing with me, against Rape.