Of course birth activists know that in rare cases medical interventions are necessary and save lives. Such a statement is so obvious that it does not need to be repeated ad nauseum. Further, such a statement is utterly irrelevant to the fact that unnecessary interventions are routinely occurring in our current maternity system and leaving millions of women needlessly traumatised!
If women are silenced or ignored when they talk, about their experiences of birth rape and birth trauma then no improvement can happen in the maternity system. Raising awareness is the first step towards change, and who better to raise awareness than survivors who have first hand knowledge?
You can identify a silencer by the following traits: he or she responds to discussions about birth trauma and birth rape with:
- Interventions can saves lives
- My caesarean was necessary/fine
- The hospital staff saved my life
- The hospital staff saved my baby's life
- There's no such thing as birth rape/trauma
- At least you have a healthy baby
- At least you're alive.
Those of you who are compelled to respond to hearing about other women's trauma in these ways, pause first and reflect. Imagine for a moment that your caesarean wasn't necessary, imagine that thoughtless doctors performed unnecessary interventions on you without your consent, imagine that you had been betrayed by those you thought you could trust, imagine anxiety attacks, imagine flash backs, imagine nightmares where you re-live these abuses over and over, imagine your sex life feeling ruined or being non-existent, imagine no longer feeling safe in your own body or in your intimate relationships with loved ones, imagine not feeling connected to your baby, imagine your child's birthday being the anniversary of your assault. Once you have glimpsed into the survivor's reality you can begin to understand what an appropriate response might be.
Tips on How To Respond To Discussions About Birth Rape/Trauma
- Remember that a survivor's story belongs to them, not you!
- Fight the urge to change the topic.
- Do not make yourself or your birth story the centre of conversation.
- Fight the urge to belittle their experiences by reminding them that they are alive and that their baby is healthy.
- Think compassion, not competition!
- LISTEN, rather than talk.