Monday, June 2, 2014

Trust, Not Trusting, and Distrust


There's a lot of discussion just now about trust and distrust, about whether it's okay to distrust an entire portion of the population because of things a small percent do, or might do.  The context of this is of course the recent killings by a man upset that no one would have sex with him, and the discussion that has followed this about the fear many women deal with daily, and hurt and pain more that should have gone through.

This has been an emotional topic for me over the last week, as many fears and realizations have been brought to the surface for me in it.  I had an anxiety attack related to all this a few days ago, but have got it calmed down enough now that it isn't affecting my ability to function.  Which is a good thing.

While the over all topic is quite emotional, it's easier to face and process when I step back and look at it in abstract.  And writing about it helps.  One point of abstraction to look at it in is that that I broached above.  Is it okay to distrust an entire segment of the population because of things a small percentage so, or might do?

The following are my thoughts on the subject.  Take them for what they are worth.  Or if not, take them for what you paid for them.

There's a difference between not trusting and blaming and accusing, in my mind.  Maybe even between not trusting and distrusting.  Actually I think I prefer that last phrasing.  Distrusting is an active presuming the person can't be trusted and therefore being unwilling to enter dialogue.  Not trusting is withholding judgement on if you can trust them until you know evidence one way or the other.

If I am in a parking garage alone, it is not safe for me to trust those around me.  It is not a setting to open dialogue, the results might end horribly for me.  So I don't trust and I act under the assumption anyone could be a danger to me and remove myself from that danger as fast but controlled as I can, avoiding making myself a target.

If I met the same person the next day in a safe location where dialogue would not put me in possible danger, I would leave the door open for them to show me who they are to see if I can trust them.  And honestly, in a safe environment, even if I had not trusted them in the unsafe environment the night before, I'd likely fully trust them until they gave me reason not to.

Distrust is not the assuming they could be a danger but assuming they are.  If I distrust someone, even in a safe environment I won't give them the chance to show me I can trust them, out of fear they will hurt me if I do.  So I endeavour to trust people when it is safe to do so until they earn my distrust but to not trust people when it is not safe to until they earn my trust by allowing the dialogue to occur in a safe environment instead of an unsafe one.

Not trusting someone because they might be a danger to you is good sense, not a matter of judging or unfairness.  My not trusting you when I don't know if you are a danger or not reflects nothing on you as a person, it reflects on the circumstances where I am vulnerable if you happen to be a danger.  I don't owe it to you to give you a chance if the circumstances are that I might end up raped, in the hospital, and/or dead if you turn out to be a danger.  My safety comes before giving you the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, not trusting someone when it is a safe environment when you don't yet know if they would be a danger or not in a different situation shuts down the conversation and prevents any chance to find out if they are safe.  It's a matter of mutual respect to give the benefit of the doubt in a safe setting and find out.

That being said, it's a completely different story in regards to those who have already been hurt.  If you remind me of those that have slammed me up against lockers or walls or buses and pressed against me, pinning me with their body while calling me names and asking what I'm going to do about it, there is no safe place to talk.  If you remind me of those that threw rocks at me, tried to drown me, chased me with a board with a nail in it, there is no safe place to talk.  If you remind me of those that pulled my hair or grabbed me by it, or grabbed my arm behind my back and lifted me by it, or took things from me and told me if I wanted them I had to come get them, or destroyed my art work I worked hard on, there is no safe place to talk.  I have scars from the things I've experienced, and the risk of re-opening them is usually too much.  This isn't a matter of groups of people, but types of movements and body language that reminded me.  It isn't "all men" or only men.  Anyone that makes me feel like something I suffered might occur again is not someone I can trust.

This likely has nothing to do with you (unless you are the type that would do such things), it has to do with me, and if I can't feel safe around you, not because of distrust because of the part of society you are part of but because the memories are too much.

So, trust and distrust, trust and not trusting.  It isn't a very simple subject.  But here's how it stands for me:

I will not trust you if I am in a situation where the danger that could come from trusting you puts me in danger.

I will trust you if I am in a safe situation and you don't specifically remind me of those who have hurt me.

I will not trust you if you remind me of those who have hurt me, if you make movements that bring back those memories.

And neither category of not trusting is about me blaming you or saying anything about you.  It's about me staying safe and feeling safe.


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