The greatest catch 22 when it comes to wanting to make a positive change in the world, utilising your story, is that you need to get your message out into the world in a way that compliments that message.
That can be much more difficult than it seems.
I talk with a lot of survivors of rape and sexual violence and it’s a discussion that comes up regularly. ‘I want to help other people but I don’t want to share the details of what happened to me, I have so much more to offer than that.’
There are survivors who do share the details of their stories and they offer an important message for all of us in learning that the shame and blame are not ours, they belong with the perpetrator. That is one way to change the world through sharing your story; it is not the only way.
I had an email from a journalist this morning asking;
- Could I ask how long ago the rape was and who your rapist was?
- Was it a stranger or someone you knew?
- When was he convicted?
- And how did you recover from the crime?
When I first started receiving emails with questions like this, my blood would run cold. It would send me into raw panic and I would hide away again, which was not my finest marketing strategy!
My message centres on the fact that there is life after assault, so let’s talk about that! Survivors are among the most resilient people on the planet and have so much more to offer than a description of their worst days.
I used to be frightened of receiving emails like this because I knew that unless I was willing to spill my guts, I wouldn’t be featured. So, I didn’t put myself out there and I resigned myself to the fact that’s how the media world operates.
That made me grumpy! Being grumpy about something is always a driver for me to try and make a change, so in my own little way, I’m doing that. I replied, politely, to the journalist and explained that there are elements of my story that I will share and elements that I won’t. It’s my story and I will make it count in a way that is in line with my integrity and my message. I added that I would love her support in doing that if she’s interested in a positive piece for her readers.
I received a positive reply and the discussion is ongoing so who knows where it will lead. The media world doesn’t just have one of operating!
Making your story count means stepping up and being a positive advocate in a way that supports the message you have for the world. If you’re sharing your story in the public domain (and there are 101 amazing ways to make your story count without stepping into the public domain), you still have autonomy and you can choose what you do and don’t share.
If the fear of being asked questions that you’re uncomfortable with is preventing you from making your story count in the way you would like to, remember that it’s YOUR story and you have control.
You can say ‘no,’ you can reply with alternative ideas and you can absolutely share whatever you are comfortable with sharing.