August 21, 2006
No Secrets, No Silence, No Shame
One blog--a blogspot called TELLSECRETS--seems to have popped up the day after I posted "Share a Secret, Stop the Silence, Silence the Shame." Hhmmm...strange coincidence. There is no personal information in the blog's profile, but my blog is linked on the sidebar. Not sure what I think about this mystery. I'll have to find out who this blogger is.
I've noticed that some of the more popular "secret sharing" sites talk about confessions. The word confess means to acknowledge or admit. The word admit means to acknowledge or recognize as true. Synonyms for confess are own, declare, confirm, affirm, testify, disclose, reveal and divulge. Synonyms for admit include accept and allow. You won't find many of these words on the popular sites.
The site Daily Confessions at www.dailyconfessions.com, instructs visitors to "confess your sins" and is organized around the Ten Commandments of the bible. (This is not a religious site, by the way.) The site, Not Proud, www.notproud.com, lists confessions organized around the Seven Deadly Sins, such as envy, pride and sloth. (Also not a religious site.)
The Not Proud site has been around since 2000 and has spawned a book entitled, Not Proud: A Smorgasbord of Shame. The Daily Confessions site also led to a book called Coming Clean.
I don't know about you, but I'm not keen on grazing from the "smorgasbord of shame." I was already force-fed that crap for enough of my life, thank you. Another site--which has only been around since 2003, but is even bigger than the two previously mentioned with over 100,000 incoming links--is called Group Hug and also has a book. Unless you've already seen the book, I doubt you can guess the title. It's called Stoned, Naked And Looking In My Neighbor's Window.
The Group Hug name is a reference to group therapy. When a visitor wants to post a secret, however, they are also asked to "confess." In my own personal experience with group therapy and support groups, I never felt like I was "going to confession" when I shared with the group.
As I look at the definitions and synonyms I listed above, I find that I really like the ideas represented in: acknowledging, recognizing as true, owning, affirming, accepting and allowing. As I consider my own secret-sharing site and look at the terms I found on the sites that already exist on the Internet, I find that I am definitely turned off by: confessing your sins, deadly sins, raw confessions, a smorgasbord of shame, looking in my neighbor's window, and being labeled "not proud."
Of the sites I just listed, one flags appropriate posts with "disturbing content," one does not allow uncalled-for vulgarity and one simply has a disclaimer at the beginning that states, "may be offensive." One site includes helpful information and links for suicide prevention and abuse hotlines. I like that. The same site has pop-up ads. I don't like that. One site allows comments on posts, but commenters must log in. I have to give the webmasters of these sites credit; they all seem to disallow bragging, obvious lies, urban myths and spam. They all promise complete anonymity. I agree; when dining at the smorgasbord of shame, one must insist on anonymity.
Some of the other, lesser-known confession sites highlight things such as "tips to follow when having an affair." Some post "secrets" like those jockeying for bragging rights on "shameful deeds" such as their recent induction into the "Mile High Club."
If you know me at all, you can probably guess that I'm not interested in anything like that. I am not interested in encouraging any kind of voyeurism. On my site, I'd like to do away with any terms akin to "sins," "shame," and "lies."
There's so much to think about. There's more to this than I could have guessed when I just popped this particular idea off the top of my head.
I guess I'm pretty sure about what I don't want. What I do want is a safe place for people--especially survivors--to feel heard. I want a supportive place where we can stop the silence and shame that perpetuates abuse in all its forms. I want visitors to feel compassion and affirmation and acceptance. At its best, this space should be a place where sharing feels cathartic, but may also be inspiring for others to read. Shame doesn't belong in this space; we've all had enough of that.
My next post will go over some of the specific ideas I got from my blog readers. I'll also be considering the logistics of how to set up a secret-sharing, shame-silencing site.
For now, I'll leave you with a quote from Don Miguel Ruiz and his wonderful book, The Four Agreements. The first of the Ruiz agreements is, "Be Impeccable With Your Word." Ruiz affirms, "Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself." (Emphasis here is mine.) He elaborates by saying, "...with that intention, the truth will manifest through you and clean all the emotional poison that exists within you."
I like the idea of cleaning emotional poison. As I'll show you in my next post, the idea of sharing secrets as being a cleansing experience is popular with some of my fellow bloggers and survivors. My intent with hosting a secret-sharing site is to clean away emotional poison, not spew out more of it into the world. Thanks for your ideas. I'll be back soon with more on this.
I look forward to hearing further news on this. Do let me know if I can be of any help.
anonymous: Thanks for the tip. I looked briefly at "Is It Normal?" and will look some more. Off the top of my head though, I have some problems with stuff labeled "hot" and "normal." I think many survivors of any kind of sexual assault/abuse may have issues/discomfort around these things. More to consider--safety is a top concern for me. Thanks for visiting.
There is a difference between reporting and confession. Reporting is what the victim needs to do, and confession is what the perp needs to do (but probably won't).
There should be a feeling of some shame when one confesses a wrongdoing. Otherwise, there would be no motivation for changing one's behavior. What's unfortunate is that so many perps feel NO shame or guilt at all. So they continue because they choose not to see the injury they have caused.
But it will remain a mystery to me how society puts the shame on the victims of sexual abuse. There is no shame in reporting assault....so why is there shame in reporting sexual assault?
Are we having fun yet? :) Thanks for all the support with the Stew. I have been thinking about your idea for a sharing space. It needs to be safe. My blog as you know is a safe place because first and foremost I treat everyone with respect. But more than just a safe place, your "secret" place needs to be a place where people can leave their trauma, and to have others help them heal.
Just some thoughts this morning.
I've written a memoir about surviving incest, tentatively with that title. I'm hoping I'm not stepping on toes using that phrase.
I don't have any idea about the origin of that phrase. You certainly wouldn't be stepping on my toes using it. I wish you all the best with your memoir...and with thriving. Blessings to you.
Links to this post: