Outrage has gotten a bad reputation lately. I'm not sure that's fair. Sure, we shouldn't be fired up all the time. But? If we're never outraged in this world full of brokenness, then we're either heartless or simply not paying attention.
(That said, give yourself permission to not pay attention sometimes. If you need to step away from all media outlets from time to time because life hurts too much, you're not alone. Step away. Take care of you. The world won't suffer without your outrage. Promise.)
When outrageous events occur, outrage should follow. That's logical. Healthy. Good. Deserved. Meanwhile, if we can stay silent in the face of injustice, something inside us is woefully broken.
Lately the main topic of social media outrage is one million percent deserved. When news stories about a heinous crime lead with descriptions of how much alcohol was consumed and what a skilled athlete the offender is, that's not okay. When a judge handing down a shockingly short sentence on three violent felonies expresses more concern for the rapist's future well-being than the victim's, that's not okay. When the only truth teller in the room is the one who is still recovering from her trauma, that's not okay. When the perpetrator talks about wanting to address the drinking culture at college without acknowledging the rape culture, that's not okay. When the felon's father refers to the rape as 20 minutes of action as he excuses his son's behavior, that's not okay. When black criminals are identified in the press by their mug shots but it takes public outcry to get the white swimmer boy's, that's not okay.
When so much is not okay, outrage is the righteous and just and proper response.
I haven't shared a single post about this situation, though. So far, I've been silent. But I've been soaking in your outrage. It's been a gift, truly, because this feels personal to me.
I wasn't behind a dumpster. I didn't face my attacker in a courtroom. I couldn't speak with the survivor's eloquence until years later. I've never publicly owned this part of my story before now. I don't see any benefit to you or me in offering specifics, but let's just say that I identify with the brave girl in the beige cardigan in more ways than one.
Yes, I am a survivor of sexual assault as well.
I don't think we need to be inflamed by every topic of potential outrage in our Twitter and Facebook feeds. But this one has been so worthy of our outrage. And with each post someone has made, it's felt like you're not just saying that she is worthy of more than what she has endured.
I'm hearing that you believe I'm worthy of more than what I endured.
Other survivors are hearing you too.
And? We are thankful for your outrage.
So, please, keep being outraged. Keep speaking up. Keep saying this is not okay.
Some of us can't speak out like the Stanford survivor did so powerfully, maybe not yet or maybe not ever. If you can and you do, your voice matters. I truly believe that righteous outrage can make a difference.
After all, rape is always bad. Outrage isn't.