"Insulation" is a word that can have both positive and negative connotations. When I'm going through a period of healing, I like to insulate myself - often I refer to it as cocooning.
But there is also a darker side to insulation, where it blurs with isolation and alienation. Whether it's within abusive interpersonal relationships, or in high demand religious groups/cults, isolation is a debilitating and can compound the trauma of the experience.
It's been ten years since I left the insular religion that I grew up in, and yet there are still times where I experience the residual effects of that childhood trauma. Much of my work is now dedicated to helping others discover their way out, and then finding outlets for their healing.
This week a chilling report came across my news feed in a support group that I help admin, and I haven't been able to shake the anger and sadness that it brings up for me (trigger warning - sexual violence).
My first thought upon reading this was "please don't let this be true."
Sadly, I well aware of what the organization involved would do in order to cover up an incident like this. During my teens, we witnessed the political circus that occurred when a young woman was victimized and killed, and the church's leadership tried to paint a picture of a saintly martyr while also subtly shaming her.
Still, this time, a naive part of me hoped that this new incident didn't occur at all, and that no one had to endure that kind of trauma. Add to that the compounding pain of having an entire institution shame, silence and isolate you in a way that forbids you from sharing your experience and there is no way to really heal.
My heart breaks because this kind of horrible victim treatment happens all of the time. Families stay silents out of fear of judgement; universities and religious institutions silence victims in order to preserve reputations. And the people who are most in need are isolated, alienated, and insulated in their pain.
At the end of the day, I don't know if this report is true. Until those involved step forward and share their stories, we may never know. But if even a portion of it true, I hope that the victims are allowed to speak and seek the healing that they probably desperately need.