By Heather Gibson, heatheragibson.com

An except from this original post, shared with permission.

I didn’t know that I would become more personally connected to the story of Dr. Ford than I ever imagined.

Not just because of what happened to her, but the story that we continue to see to this day: victim shaming. In our history as humans, through generations and time after time, it’s easier to blame the victim than it is to blame the victimizer.

Trayvon Martin would still be alive if he just didn’t wear that black hoodie. 

Amruta Soni, a transgender woman advocacy officer from India, wouldn’t have been raped if she just stopped “pretending” to be a woman.  

Dr. Ford would have had a more “believable” story, if she came forward sooner. 

Aly Raisman would have saved more girls’ lives if she reported Larry Nassar once his abuses started.

See the pattern?

These are real comments, real beliefs, from real people.

Yesterday’s testimony from Dr. Ford, put me in such an internal frenzy. I cried, I prayed, and I forced myself to keep moving in my day, but still thinking about the fact that, you just never know.

As I flashback to my own experienceduring her testimony, I couldn’t help but to feel an overwhelming amount of admiration for her. I wanted to hug her, hug every woman I saw on the street, hug my mom, my gram, all the women you can think of, I wanted to hug. It was overwhelming for me.

The aftermath effects of pain, abuse, and trauma have no deadlines. There isn’t a “you have until this date to get over it” stamped on your forehead. You don’t have a “If you don’t get over this, you’ll be jailed.” Some things that have happened to us, whether major or minor, still affect us to this day.

There’s no date to just let it go. My grandmother passed away January 2012. An unbearable time in my family’s life. My mother endured unspeakable pain at that time, although she was very strong. After a couple of months, friends and family started to tell her what to do. She’s been told, “you gotta let it go, you have to move forward.” “You know she would want you to continue with life.” Or, “I lost my mom and I am doing just fine.” My favorite one is “When are you going to stop torturing yourself?” As if torture is something that you voluntarily enjoy doing to yourself (some people do, in a kinky way, but that’s not what I’m talking about here).

I’m simply talking about the mere fact that life can take a turn at any moment. A death, a moment of abuse, a loss of something you care for like a home, precious keepsakes, etc.

It is so important to be open and empathetic to someone else and their story. Dr. Ford reminded me that as painful as the incident on my school bus was, I have a voice and I’d damned if I don’t use it. What I want for you to know is that your voice, your life, and your truth cannot be taken away. Speak loud and proud and if no one listens, I’ll listen.

So, when you think of stories like Dr. Ford, Trayvon Martin, Aly Raisman and Amruti Soni, think of their lives, their truths, and remember that you just never know.