Sunday, July 29, 2012

Taking Away the Power from the Aurora Betrayer and Reclaiming Our Own

I am saddened and sickened by the massacre that took place in Aurora, Colorado.  My heart goes out to all the victims and to their families and friends. As the days go by, most of us get on with our routines and we look forward to the goodness in others and in the day in front of us.  Tragically, the relatives of the loved ones killed or injured in the shootings as well as the caring community in Aurora have had their lives forever re-landscaped by this horrific event.  They will continue to spend the ensuing days, months, and even years working through their losses.

Although I understand the need for the media to educate and inform the public as to the identity and to the persona of the shooter, I tremble each time I hear his name and see his photo. Each and every time his dastardly act is mentioned, the betrayal he inflicted on innocents receives attention and thus contributes to his infamous notoriety. Each and every time his name is spoken and his photo is shown, we (perhaps unknowingly) glorify him, we give our power over to him, and we negate the victims in the process.  On one of the news channels, a relative of one of the victims recently stated, "I will not mention the murderer's name. To do so gives him credibility as a fellow human being.  He has proven himself otherwise."

As a longtime advocate and counselor of victims, I strongly encourage the victims themselves and their supporters to work on reclaiming their power.  Although this is a lengthy process, a key step is to find and reinstate one's voice especially in reference to the horrific betrayal incident. To accomplish this, here are two important strategies:

One: Honor and value your betrayal experience with dignity and grace.  Because the opinions of others, solicited or not, are commonplace on the Internet, it is wise to validate your feelings, emotions, and thoughts privately. Through letter writing (without sending it), or making a tape, or daily journaling, affirm and validate your voice. Honor your opinion, your perspective, and your truth. Tell your story, in your way and in your words. Let your spirit flow freely and allow your inner power to rise up again.

Two: Honor and value your position, perspective, and truth with healthy guidelines and boundaries. Those injured by a betrayer have every right to be filled with anger and sadness. And we need to release those emotions.  First, I encourage you to "make time for your voice" - let out the grief. In a safe environment and with the support of loved ones, express your painful feelings. Get out every emotion; do not hold anything back.  Secondly, also learn when to contain your experience. Keep your "circle of confidence" in mind at all times.  Disclosing your betrayal experience to those who are not worthy of your voice will only bring you re-injury. Thirdly, because we are caught off guard many times by unsuspecting questions or comments or because we are so vulnerable, we need to prepare a statement in advance about our betrayal and rehearse it. This  may sound a bit rigid, but it is for our own protection. In today's world, where anything we say can be sent out to the cyber world and take on a viral nature, we must honor our betrayal injury by being selective in our disclosures. By implementing healthy guidelines around our voice, we empower ourselves because we honor our content and we value our character.

We do not have control over the attention and coverage that the media or online users give to violent betrayers such as the one in Aurora. We cannot silence their voices when they say his name nor can we remove his image from the screen. However, long after he is out of the spotlight, our power will continue to shine as we move forward honoring and valuing our voice and our truth.

Featured Post

Protecting Our Youth Against Campus Sexual Assault: 3 Key Strategies

Today's blog is for mature audiences: ages 18 and over. Today's conversation is not an easy one to have, but it is critical.  Wha...