Watch Kim Kardashian on the red carpet sometime. She smiles. She preens for the cameras, turning this way and that. She eats up the attention.
Many abuse victims are just the opposite. We shun the limelight, feel awkward and uncomfortable if the spotlight is turned on us. Instead, we prefer to go unnoticed, to fade into the background – wallflowers by choice.
Why is this? Why is the very thought of attending a children’s play, a PTA meeting, or church service daunting? Why is it difficult for us simply to enter a room full of strangers?
Staying at home seems so much safer.
If pressed, we are likely to say that we fear rejection. Often, this centers around our looks. Some feature of ours seems less than perfect to us. Our nose is too large or our hips too wide. We’ve been trying for the past 20 years to lose the baby weight.
If not that, perhaps something about the way we dress is inadequate, in our estimation – deficient enough so that the entire audience may gasp, and draw back from us in horror.
We do not actually believe that will happen. But we fear it, all the same. Fear does not require a rational basis. Ask any child whether there is a monster in the closet.
Still, there is a clue here. We’ve known monsters. Been criticized by monsters for “flaws” we did not have. Been assaulted by monsters, beaten black and blue, for our supposed defects. Been violated by monsters, in ways we were too young to understand, then blamed for the violation. Continue reading