I have read Penelope Trunk’s words for years. She has an amazing ability to write a good story and explain her life in such an honest way that sometimes it is even painful or embarrassing to read (although I consider this one of the many positive aspects of her directly addressed Aspergers). Despite her past and present trauma she is successful, she continues to push ahead even with all the obstacles. Penelope’s life took another interesting turn according to her blog.
Recently Penelope wrote a recent post about how she and her partner got into a physical argument (possibly triggering, read with care and awareness). She talks openly about the ideas and concerns that many go through right after such situations. It was confusing, scary, and in part she wants to go and in part she wants to stay in her relationship. Figuring out what is what in those moments is very difficult. There is nothing easy about the choice to stay or leave and weighing all the different variables.
After the incident of violence, Penelope got a lot of people who responded to her blog post. This is to be expected. She is rather high-profile, she can debate logically, and is prolific by nature. Readers expressed a wide range of emotions to the traumatic event: horror, disbelief, anger, frustrations, care, fear, anger, sympathy, and confusion just to name a few. Penelope then experienced a phenomenon that I have heard many times before, she was verbally attacked because she considers staying with her partner even after there was violence.
So even after all the pain, she is then treated poorly by others because she shared her range of emotions and thoughts. She too went through numerous ideas and feelings about the whole situation. This is all understandable and normal behavior for anyone that has experienced a traumatic event, there is confusion and multiple emotions that can easily appear to contradict one another. Penelope responded to those that attacked her in a recent blog post, it is tough to read and she makes points I have often considered.
I provide all of this as a backdrop for my own perspective on Penelope’s recent violent interactions. I do not know Penelope, I have only read her various blogs throughout the years. I don’t know the details of what goes on with her and her partner. I can not assess the people involved or situation directly. Everything I know is what you or anyone else would know from reading her own words. This by nature means that what is provided is the account of one person’s understanding of the events. Hence, making a fair and rational judgement call on all parts of the complex situation is near impossible. At best, it is ill-advised to make assumptions in any direction.
One doesn’t have to have a philosophical or moral stance one way or the other about what to do after an act of relationship violence. However, it does make sense to b there for someone in a time of tremendous hardship. Right? Does it really make sense to judge, belittle, yell at, or shame someone after they have experienced trauma?
Shaming someone won’t change their mind. It just teaches them to not reach out.
Just give some thought to if attacking another is really warranted after someone has just been through trauma. If you are upset about the situation, afraid of what it means to others, or what it even means about you, or even want to help change occur, then explain it. However, attacking a person while they are suffering make little sense. It is cruel and doesn’t provoke change Hence providing a safe, comfortable, and non-critical ear can be one of the best things you can do!
Now to my point, beyond all the details, facts, or perspective…it is nearly impossible for me to understand how or why others would want to be mean, harsh, or shame another person after such an experience? Research clearly indicates (see: Brene Brown) that blame and shame do not activate change. Rather it is emotional vulnerability that brings about change and connection. How does someone get to the point where they think that yelling at another person after a traumatic event will help? Maybe they aren’t thinking. Maybe taking a few breaths and re-centering on what their goal is in that moment would be more helpful?
I’m not here to dictate morality. I am here though to bring alternative view points. And no matter what you think or don’t think about Penelope or anyone else in violent situations, I would encourage you to act with compassion and tenderness towards anyone that has suffered. If at any moment you forget, try to remember for one instance what it was like to be in such fear and pain and what it was like when someone made you feel even worse. Yep, now you got it.