Even just typing those words in the title has left me with a feeling of such relief that I struggle to convey it.
For every person who nods her head knowingly when you recount a story of street harassment, there is someone who scoffs. For every anonymous stranger on the internet who stars or likes a painful comment you shared out of sympathy and understanding, there is someone who will never believe let alone understand. For every moment of commiseration and loyalty and strange comradery that you can find when you tell the world about your pain, there is this feeling that you shouldn't be allowed to. That your grief and confusion means something is wrong with you, rather than that there is something wrong with the world.
But I believe you. And it's not your fault.
It's easy to fall back on bashing Tumblr, because there's a lot of behavior on that site that, as someone who's within spitting distance of 30, just doesn't make much sense to me (which is fine, I don't need to understand everything). But one of the best things to come out of the advent of the site is single-use blogs with the ability to submit posts, as anonymously as you wish. And after the raw and unvarnished ache of Project Unbreakable, where rape survivors share what their attackers said to them, I thought there couldn't be another project that hit me in the gut that hard. I was wrong, of course, and discovered that this week when I found "i believe you | it's not your fault, notes from your big sister."
"Do not let anyone tell you that your curiosity is the cause of your downfall." says one.
"I'm better now, or as better as I can be. I am no longer fixated on qualifying. On being sick enough for her or for me or for the world. " says another.
"I see what happened to you. I know exactly how you feel. It was not your fault. I believe you." using words that we've all wanted to hear and been deprived of at one point or another in our lives.
I am no one's sister, let alone big sister. It's just one of the (many) roles I don't have. But I have been a teacher and a mentor, I have been a friend and a lover. So here's my note to you, even if I'm your little sister, even if I'm your cousin or your daughter or just some rando on the internet.
I believe you. And it's not your fault.
I don't care who told you what you saw, felt, heard, did wasn't real. Because if it was real for you, it matters. I don't want you to think that I will blame you for something you had no control over, because I won't. I don't want you to think that my confusion and anger on your behalf, my rage that the world is so monumentally fucked up, is aimed at you.
Because I believe you and it is not your fault.
I don't want you to wonder if any mistakes you made are the reason that you were hurt. Everyone makes mistakes, and it doesn't mean that they deserve to be wounded. I don't want you to walk around hiding the injuries from the people who love you, because we all have injuries of our own and hiding them only means they'll get infected, only means we'll all be more alone in our pain.
Because I believe you, but you believe me too, and it's not our fault.
I can't always be there, but that doesn't mean you're alone. Because while no one has had your exact life, your precise experiences, one of the horrifically beautiful things about being a human is that almost every one can see pieces of themselves in every other one. There is someone there, beside you on the train or in class or maybe even in your home, that would use the same words as you would use, if you could both speak aloud.
Because we believe you and you believe us and it's not our fault.
Come find the note you need. Or submit one so someone else will feel a little less like the world isn't really listening. And let's remember that the first step to making it better is believing that it needs to be.