Imagine owning the world like that. Claiming space like that. Losing your guard like that, losing track. Losing yourself to the pure pleasure of living. Imagine roaming the world at will – a she-wolf – and coming home, filled to the brim. Reaching for the computer, for the sketchpad, for the guitar. Howling your truth. Possessed by a muse that would burn your house down rather than let you shrink. Imagine sharing your truth like that. Sharing yourself and your passion and your work and never, not once, being met with comments about your hair, your weight, your perceived sexiness or lack thereof.
Because sometimes the worst damage is not done when he attacks her, but afterwards, when everyone else does too. When she attacks herself. Because what keeps the wounds open and women trapped is the shame she’s expected to shoulder when someone has attacked her body. I do not accept that shame. It is not mine. Not yours, either. Because shame leads to silence. The violated woman is expected to become silent. She’s expected to shrink and forget everything she still has to offer. Because her voice is needed, and her experience. Her scarred gaze upon the world.
A post by Emelie Hill Dittmer, one of our license scholarhip holders: “That’s why I’m writing with even greater intensity now, to mark that I’m emerging out from behind the veil. Because I cannot sit down and do nothing now when mum is no longer with me. That’s why I’m writing, for her and for us, and through the Write Your Self License Program I will be able to help others. I cannot imagine a bigger and more meaningful task. I found ways that I can write for you, mum, I write for us.”
One of the books drew my attention more than the others, but it took many years before I dared to open it. It was thick and blue and the title on the spine said: “From Drifter to Millionaire”. The author was Alvar Lindmark – my grandfather who had died the same year I was born. I was keenly interested in him. There was something very special about my grandfather, I had understood that much. Perhaps it was only that he was dead. I didn’t know that many dead people. When I was eleven years old I worked up the courage to take the thick, blue book from the shelf. I was home alone. I expected words, to get to know grandfather through the words. But what I found was something entirely different. The book consisted of empty pages.
Even though the story I depicted in “In the Shadow of a Genius” was built on truth and facts I couldn’t change, there was still much in my own story I had power over. My attitude towards what had happened slowly began to change. It took many years but one day it was there. The hopeful ending. That which I had struggled to find for so many years suddenly felt obvious and completely natural to write.
“It wasn’t until I started writing a book about my grandfather that I realised that all those things I had kept through the years were important because of the stories they carried, that they were the missing pieces I needed to become a whole person.” Our lecturer and workshop leader Anna was recently a guest in the Swedish radio programme ‘Thoughts for the Day’, where she talked about her book ‘I skuggan av ett geni – arvet från uppfinnaren som tog hissen upp till himlen’ (‘In the Shadow of a Genius’) that deals with the story of her grandfather and the effect of his legacy on generations to come. Here you can listen to and read Anna’s story.
A post by Ylva Maria Pavval, Niejda – Chicks in Sápmi, one of our new license scholarhip holders: “When these stories make their way into daylight, we must dare listen to them. Sexual abuse often leaves the victim full of shame, and if spoken about, the victim runs the risk of being ostracised. This is when it’s important for us to place the shame where it belongs, with the perpetrator. As a community, we need to equip ourselves to better receive these stories of abuse. We need it in order to safeguard our future. And we must start talking. We must have these conversations around our kitchen tables, today.”
Applications are now closed and today we will contact those of you who have been granted the scholarships of 2016. Altogether we’ve received 297 applications from 15 countries – Syria, South Africa, Russia, Algeria, Venezuela, Brasil, Croatia, Germany, Norway, the UK, the US, Canada, Belgium, Ireland, Australia and Sweden. Many of you know intuitively or by experience that writing can be helpful and empowering, but are unsure how to approach it. You want to write, but don’t know where to begin. You want to give writing others, but don’t know how to. This is why we’re creating our writing program and our license program. To provide tools, support and community for this work – a framework resting on evidence-based work and research, as well as our own experiences from teaching and from healing.
An autumn day, twenty one years ago, I sat watching the old poplars outside my window sway in the wind. I had just turned eighteen. The poplars grew outside the hospital building, outside the psychiatric ward where I was locked up, against my will, because I was considered a danger to myself.
I was raped as a child. I was raped by my grandfather and later by my stepbrother. This is the first time I write these words publically. I’ve written about being sexually abused before, but I’ve never written “by him and by him” and it still feels like breaking the rules to do so. I am breaking the rules. I’m spilling the secret these men left me to keep, and in doing so, I feel guilty. For exposing them, for making people uncomfortable, for claiming that my side of the story matters at all. But it does matter. And as I tell my story, just as it is, the part of me that has struggled to keep the secret can begin to relax. And as I tell my story, just as it is, the part of me that has struggled to keep the secret can begin to relax.
Thank you for sharing your stories so openly. Reading your applications is like witnessing a powerful wave; forming, rising, setting new currents in motion. We are so much alike, all of us. Many of us feel alone and isolated because of what we’ve been through – that we are in too much pain, and that too much has happened for us to find healing and a new way of being, where life post-trauma is still open for creation. Yet to be written.
It’s time to open the new expanded Write Your Self – with a new team behind the work. This text was written in 2013 by one of my clients when the program had just started. At that time her world had fallen apart, she was in the middle of a therapy process, couldn’t work and needed to dedicate most of her time and energy to heal. Now she’s at a different place. She broke her silence and made her rebellion against what she had been subjected to. She triumphed – and I got to witness and be a part of it.