If you're like me, can't fathom how someone can think a proven perpetrator's rights is more important than a victim's rights, think there's no justice whatsoever, you come to the right place. If you have been victimised and face people telling you the most distressing things at the most inopportune time, you have come to the right place.
Oh, there's chocolates, hope and healing here as well.
The recent victimisation of Monica Baey by sexual voyeur, Nicholas Lim, who illegally filmed her in the hostel shower has brought up deeply personal chapters of my life, chapters with an s because there's unfortunately more than one. Abuse, sexual assault, harassment is tip of my roller coaster mountains and valleys of healing.
In The Straits Time video which is linked at the bottom, Miss Baey clarified she didn't set out to punish him, she was surprised it blew up like it did, "it's not about seeing him suffer or taking away his education. It's that I feel unsafe."
"I have been suffering this on my own."
"Some people think it's for revenge or for attention. To that, I just have to say, I don't think you understand what it feels like to be a victim. As much as it might not have been the only way to deal with this situation, this is the only way I knew how to deal with it. You have to understand, I am away, I'm in Taiwan, I am out of options."
She looked deflated at that point, I feel her, I felt this deflation before as well.
Although I feel completely differently now, no longer deflated like I would have been by similar news pre 2017, on the verge of tears, panic attacks surrounded by social anxiety, clinical depression carrying pangs of excruciating pain. A heartbreak of the spirit I call it, the dark night of the soul as the spiritual community calls it. Something that nearly broke me permanently, trauma so overwhelming, I didn't know where to start, who to tell and where to go.
The only thing that kept me together was my faith because God knows when no one understands, God always has empathy when no one else does.
I am a far cry now, from when I started healing my accumulated 36 years of repressed PTSD in 2017, Still, the hellish nuisance of trauma is such, we can't decide when a bee becomes a hornet or when a swarm of bees become a swarm of hornets, buzzing intrusively through a sky full of joyous clouds within us. A stark reminder whenever I read about similar incidents, shameful relief I am not alone in this yet wishing for once I was alone in this.
Her sorrow is mine, my sorrow is also someone else's, in the oneness it is such, when one isn't free, no one is.
"I never wanted this", Monica says.
I hear her, somehow people don't get it. Who started what matters, it always matters. They cut the sequence up into acceptable slices to them, they neglect the rest that displeasures them. As victims play this tape in their heads until they want to explode.
When you try your best to be a good person, do the right things, say the right things, be kind, be good, be helpful, you wonder why you were ever victimised.
Why me? Why her? Why anyone else?
We have no neat boxes to unpack this why, why anyone or why a specific someone, yet we always want to grasp at straws, to know exactly why. Maybe we want to know how to protect ourselves, maybe we feel disappointed with the whole idea of good things happening to good people and bad things happening to bad people.
People always want to paint someone as a bad person so it makes more sense to them, the world order of clearly segregated good and bad, wrong or right is an easier notion to live with, than the messy unpredictable grey that is really life.
I told God, I need to be in my cave. To my surprise, God said, I am your cave. As I snuggled up with God in the darkness, I realised something miraculous, that each time I was re-victimised by the cruel injustice, endless ignorance of this world and needed to hide, I was resting deeper in the arms of our saviour, that the cave is in me, the cave is God and God is my highest self, it is the same for everyone, how beautiful is it?
My spirit lifted, my anger at the cruelty shown to her dissipated, I arrived at my AHA moment of clarity, why would someone do that? Be concerned about a criminal's future, his wellbeing, his parent's welling above a victim's. What a world we live in, when a victim seeking justice must first stand up to scrutiny, have her face splashed across all media platforms and he just responses with lame excuses of drunk, going for counselling, that even a tiny job lost, an internship, is such an unacceptable disruption to his life. That people even use his illusionary suicide to re-victimise, threatened her quest, what about her life, her suicide? It seems like a no brainer she would be more at risk of whatever they think he is going through.
Something so obvious drummed up the people who lacked empathy, that whatever we do, even if it's for the greater good with best intentions, is always suspected, judged and often despised.
We never get to be good enough to everyone, this is the harsh reality, no matter how good, kind, decent, in control you're, people can still find something to hate us with, it's terribly disillusioning. How as a woman, we never ever seem to be good enough.
She was victimised, she stood up for change, she is still judged. I was victimised, I too stood up for change and I am still judged as well.
Until today, when I speak up about victimisation, people still tell me to hush, I am being noisy, too much, too harsh, they are afraid of me, my voice, they are intimidated by how I will not hesitate to call anyone out, they think they might be next even though I very simply want to be myself, I also am willing to bear the consequences of being me as well. So why are they trying to control my narrative, when they don't have to experience my consequences?
They even think I'm selfish because it's my story, like I'm hoarding limited airwaves for social change, that their efforts are also better, higher in value. Yet I don't see them visibility advocating for change, do I?
They don't understand it's not only about me, it's also about everyone like the old me, could be the same as the new me or people who want to heal like I did. It was never about me only, it's about the bigger picture of life.
It's exhausting, the suspicion, the resentment, the ignorance.
Also, I am important, my stories are important, if they don't see beyond the surface, so be it, I give up on them, some people are hopelessly self-centred, they do not care.
Others are jealous of how I can freely do so, they want to be me yet they want to risk nothing. They want a big life with a loud voice yet they keep quiet, keep small and play nice.
None of that will get you where you want to be, be it your highest self, to heal or to fulfil your greatest potential, I know this because this was the way old me behaved. People please, put everyone first even when I was traumatised, I want to say that it was solely about being a kind person, the truth is I found out later, I was trying to avoid my pain bits at the same time. Even with pure intentions always, I wasn't as altruistic as I thought, knowing that humbled me, I got to know myself better. As I think people who criticise me is really doing, just as people who side with Nicholas is really doing, they are avoiding their pain, even if we did it in different ways.
They think speaking up is so easy for me, it's actually always harder than someone who hasn't been victimised, speaking up can be a form of self re-victimisation, I am fully aware of this, this is part of my permanent self-care, I have to, even if I consider it an unnecessary burden, forced into my life by criminals. What choice do I have?
I remember every frame of victimisation from different incidences, I can run but I can't hide, so I finally faced them down, brutally, full frontal, no more hiding. It took me hitting rock bottom to do this so I know how hard it is, how much we want to run away from our pain and at some point, it always catches up with us.
She is a talking point, the face of a controversial topic, a difficult conversation we have been neglecting as a nation, a topic that has trapped a nation in fear of being judged, standing out, being open and loud when we need to, so we all caved in to fear instead.
I also caved in to fear in the past, the problem is fear creates more fear, it's a never-ending story of self-betrayal, seeking approval from people who aren't ours in the first place.
They forget she is also a human who probably has PTSD now, trauma doesn't go away, even if justice is served the way she wants it, she still has to face the pain on her own, in private, so she can move on. Justice is helpful for her healing, part of her healing, justice isn't her healing, healing is a process and it can be a long drawn out one.
People often insist victims forgive, have compassion and move on by their own timelines. Hello, why wouldn't any victim want that? You want that doesn't mean you can have that immediately, it doesn't work like this, trauma zzzzooommmm to forgiveness in a flash. I wish it was so, life would be much easier for me and all victims if it was so.
What about her disruption? He started the disruption, she had to react to it. No one wakes up and think, oh, I will be videotaped today in the shower! I sure as hell didn't think visiting a doctor will get my breasts groped. Life isn't like horror movies where the stupid victim sees a masked perpetrator through the peep hole, willingly opens the door to someone ready to massacre her.
It's a series of incidences out of our control, no matter how cautious we're, it could have been any of us when we least expect it. Sometimes life hunts us down, haunts us with the invisible ghost of pain. A pain we cannot describe immediately, a pain we cannot grasp in its entirety at a glance, like water flowing through fingers, we reclaim small parts of ourselves when we are ready, until we become whole again.
Sometimes life gets too much too soon, sometimes it's too little too long, sometimes it falls apart in a second.
No one prepares you for the last part, falling apart in a second, life-changing events that throw you a curve ball outside of your life goals, beyond a clear vision for what kind life you want to have. It curtails you to a spin stop, where you ponder what decisions you made that brought you there, would things have been totally different then?
If I didn't go to that doctor.
If she didn't take a shower.
These are normal daily activities, nothing out of the norm.
I think this is what scares those people who stood on his side the most, the powerlessness and helplessness. By siding with him, they saw themselves as the ones in control, the ones in power, the ones who decides the narrative, not led by it. They are afraid of the fragile uncertainties of life, so siding with him puts them in his shoes, re-victimising unknowingly or knowingly is equals to being a winner, the one still in control of their lives, the ones who deserves constant redemption without considering the person they need redemption from.
It really makes you wonder, who are these people who have no qualms siding with him, are they potential criminals themselves? It's a frightening thought, another one we want to run away from.
He violated her sacred space, they violated her by not letting her decide what is best for her life. This is their way of taking charge of their selfish reactions, to do something about it, to express something, anything, as soon as possible. To escape the vulnerabilities, to skip right back to being in control, to forget about it, push it to the back of their minds. To rein the narrative back into a place of personal comfort, where they fool themselves that they are not at risk, they criticise her so they take full charge of their lives again, repressing the possibility of it ever being them.
That thought is too frightening and frightening is no good, we are taught to avoid it, instead of lean in, see what it tells us.
Ironic enough, Monica was determined to take charge of her narrative too, in a big way, in a way that ended up reforming NUS's policies, along with five other universities. She galvanised previously apathetic crowds, one people, one nation, one Singapore, all participating to make change happen, I feel proud to be a Singaporean when I saw that happening, I take a small amount of pride in the little part I played as a responsible citizen.
I'm not much of a celebrate public holidays kind of person, not even National Day, people waving tiny flags puzzled me. I never did have the urge to wave tiny flags under the blazing sun, I don't want to be part of the Kallang Wave, I always wanted to watch the parade in the air-conditioned comfort of my home.
I almost bursted with national pride when I heard news of the conversations started, saw endless comments supporting her, heard how universities have stepped up to the plate, this is the Singapore I want to live in, I thought.
The place I call home, where it's safe, what is a home if it isn't safe?
I then did a Kallang Wave complete with tiny flags in my head.
I understand what Monica is going through in a way, I won't ever dare say fully since we carry our pain in different ways, she has her story and I have mine. I'm careful not to trespass on her narrative, rob her power in the process of discussion.
I understand she needed to do it her way and not anyone else's. This is what the people who defended Nicholas didn't understand, it can never be their way, it isn't personal to them, it is personal to her. Only her way will work for her trauma, only her way will heal her trauma.
How else can she reclaim her life back? She has to move beyond this chapter at some point, she either step up now or regret for the rest of her life, because she would find out like I did, when I wanted justice from someone who violently abused me tens of years ago, I was told by him, "why drag out the past?", "it's history, move on."
He frowned casually in an accusatory tone, anger boiling inside him. Coupled with a dismissive wave of his hand, like he was swatting a fly. I think that fly became bees that morphed into hornets gunning me down in my head, that's how trauma builds up, how our mental health suffers.
I was the fusspot, the trouble maker for bringing it up, this is why the dismissiveness of the people who sided with Nicholas is so jarringly familiar, subliminally we are receiving the same message - Monica doesn't matter, a woman doesn't matter, I don't matter.
He had clean forgotten and I should too was his conclusion, I was trash and he already took me to the bin, my pain was inconsequential to him, the person who caused it. He wasn't responsible for my pain, me not retaliating then was my own fault. Me being a peace loving, compassionate person was my own fault, he never saw that part, he just thought I was weak, a pushover which is also my fault.
All of it was my fault, kindness was my fault, empathy was my fault, I grief all the emotions wasted on him, all the emotions he never returned to me.
My fault, my fault, my fault, I was victimised and still it's my fault.
He turned his head, his body followed, the discussion was over. We all know when someone turn their backs on us, sometimes it's literal, they literally turn away, focused on their own lives, again the same message.
We do not matter.
He didn't care, not one bit, I was alone and he made sure I knew it.
I never got my justice, I never even got an apology from him.
I do not exist. How can an object deserve justice? Why would a narcissist ever apologise?
I have to swallow this bitter pill for the rest of my life, no one is kidding you when they say she has to carry her trauma for the rest of her life or victimisation ruins lives, all of it is true.
When my physical, emotional and psychological safety didn't matter to someone I loved so dearly. When I was treated like garbage and he can't be bothered to even speak to garbage, the scars stay with you, for life. He abandoned me long before I had the realisation he did, he never wanted me, I was a burden from day one, just a human trash chute for all his frustrations, that was only what I was good for.
To be abused, humiliated and dehumanised.
He didn't have a pinch of interest in my dignity.
I remember screaming at him once, "I am a human being, I need to live with dignity!", as tears flooded my face. He looked at me, shocked, because I never did confront him much, I can count on one hand, the times I did. Then again the endless anger, he was always angry. I often wondered why was he always angry, why doesn't he run out of anger? I kept hanging on, hoping he would one day change, that you would wake up and realise my love for him, only to realise he would never.
And I have to live with that too.
I reclaimed myself in similar fashion, unfortunately without as much impact as hers. My sphere of influence is quieter, where people send me private messages to tell me how I touched their lives, where I see a string of abuse victims doing much better, my writing being appreciated, my following steadily grow even though I have zero social media skills. LOL. Knowing many got healthier, felt less alone and even more had AHA revelations, untied knots they carried for a lifetime, that is my reward for my courage.
It also surprisingly embolden me to finally be myself as well, just like her, it's unexpected, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I finally found it!
I am thankful for such meaningful work, for such a meaningful life that came out of the devastation of my soul, rubble that I kept hidden for a lifetime, neat structures to contain the pain that eventually collapsed all at once.
Then came the resurrection, a rebuilding of my insides, to transform me completely as a person. A glorious life where I meet like-minded people, the spiritualists, the empaths, the feminists, the lesbians, the occasional oddball that makes me laugh out loud. I no longer feel alone in my cave, I know they are with me, with God, as part of the oneness, I am never without.
Even if being an Instagram vigilante is seen as too much for some, you cannot deny the result is a success story of a courageous woman who did it her way, the only way where there's no regret. I discovered the backlash is always worth it, because living with dignity is so much more important than being liked. We can't please everyone and it's OK, they will adjust or they will leave. We need not be trapped with people who always don't get us or have no empathy for our vulnerabilities, it's totally OK to be selective. We have our people and they have theirs, we have our opinions and they have theirs.
So it's a magnificent win win in my heart, reclaiming herself, creating social change at the same time. I just wish I had her courage at her age. Knowing I'm an infinite being helps, it's never too late to own ourselves fully, to be ourselves daily.
I still stand by the way I did it - Monica Baey
You go girl! That's the only way to live!
Love light peace,
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