Recently I came across a very good blog post on the Emerging From Broken blog entitled “The Problem With Statements Like ‘Get Over It’”
Reading it caused me to think of many things people have said to me over the years which have minimised my experience and disempowered and devalued me. Many times I’ve been told to “just get over it”.
The problem with this is with abuse we’re not just talking about one event to get over.
We are talking in my case of 20 years of events - 20 years of beatings, torture, sexual violence, emotional, psychological, religious and verbal abuse and conditioning that tells you over and over that you are trash and worthless.
I grew up in a war zone. I spent 20 years in a war zone. That war zone was my family - the place where I should have been safe. My entire family was a war zone. It only ended when I was beaten up and left for dead by my parents.
You don’t just “get over” that depth of trauma.
I vividly remember someone saying to me “well I was hit as a child and it didn’t affect me” and someone else saying “I was brought up in a Barnardo’s home and it hasn’t affected me”.
Both those statements implied that I was somehow inferior to those people because “I let it” affect me. The second person indeed I could see was massively affected by his experience of growing up in care but he couldn’t see it himself.
The problem with these statements and many like them is they put the blame for how the traumatic affects a person upon the victim when the blame lies with the perpetrators.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with trauma. There is no right or wrong way to be affected by abuse. Everyone person’s experience is unique and the affect of abuse on a person’s life will also be unique.
Being told to “get over it” is enormously minimising and devaluing. Of course you aren’t told HOW to get over it just that you should be over it so there is something wrong with you that you aren’t over it. It does not give space for the person to be who they are and to express their experience. It just tells the person they’re at fault which is very damaging and judgemental. Such comments do not help a person, they just add to their trauma and confusion.
Here is a short excerpt from the Emerging from Broken blog post.
“Let’s define the word “IT”. “IT” in this case and according to my experience was psychological abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Get over emotional abuse. Get over sexual abuse. Get over physical abuse. Get over being told in actions and sometimes in words, that you were not lovable, not valued, not valid as a human being but rather defined as an object with no feelings, by just forgetting about it. Get over being told (and believing) that no one could love you, not even God, that you were just a big disappointment.
Being told to “get over it” (abuse) is exactly what I was told when I was a kid. It triggers those same feelings of being WRONG, being powerless and being helpless. I had no choice when I was a kid and I grew up well into my adult years not ever realizing that I did in fact have a choice. And as a child, I bought that lie, that I was the one who was wrong.
Being told to “just get over it” is devaluing. It implies that I am making a mistake in processing an event. It indicates that something is wrong with ME because I am in still confused about something that has not been resolved. The statement is emotionally abusive. And even when it is used in a positive context, as in the example in the first paragraph, there is a negative left over from all the abuse that was forced on me in the past.
People who say stuff like this don’t have any solutions; they don’t ever offer suggestions on HOW to get over it or deal with it, because they don’t know how either. They only offer devaluing and thoughtless instructions that remind me of my childhood and how I was never right, never good enough and never entitled to my feelings or to my pain. I was not entitled to realize that I had been wronged. I was always the one who was wrong no matter what the situation was.”
The entire article can be read at http://emergingfrombroken.com/the-problem-with-statements-like-%E2%80%9Cget-over-it%E2%80%9D/