Health and Personal Boundaries - Recalling Jennifer Lawrence & Reflections on the recent celeb iCloud hacking

Originally published in a modified form in the Port Hawkesbury Reporter and Inverness Oran September 2014. 

This is a tough topic to tackle but one that requires attention. Sexual abuse is rampant in the world today; in some places it’s in our face and in other places it’s hidden and we can’t see it. In our society it’s usually hidden as generally women are more safe in public spaces than in most places in the world.  The recent hacking of some female celeb’s iCloud accounts and then posting naked pictures of them on the internet is a glaring example of how far we have to go before it’s safe to be a woman and celebrate the fullness of ones sexuality and of ones femininity.  These women were violated - their privacy and their right to be themselves naked or fully clothed was taken from them.  

Many people quickly blamed these women for not being careful enough with their pictures, or for even taking naked pictures of themselves at all.  How is this attitude different than the attitude that women who are assaulted were being provocative? That they were asking for it?  Publicly displaying those pictures on the internet and looking at them is the same as finding someone’s personal journal on the street and reading it instead of keeping it safe for that person and returning it.  

I understand that we share a world with people who do violate privacy and the sanctity of sexuality and the sanctity of childhood.  But more and more protection and shields won’t change the fact that outside those shields is an unsafe world.  It WAS NOT Jennifer Lawrence’s fault that someone violated her privacy and took what wasn’t theirs, just like it’s no ones fault except except the perpetrator of a crime when someone is sexually assaulted.  We need to figure out why we have an unsafe world that violates personal boundaries and turn our attention to solutions.  

Of course we have to protect ourselves and be aware that there are unsafe situations and do our best to avoid them.But let’s not fool ourselves; the real problem is the violation of personal boundaries not the iCloud’s imperfect security.   

 Before age 18, 33% of girls, and 17% of boys in Canada have been sexually violated (Child Sexual Abuse Statistics, compiled by the National Advisory Council of Women, quoted by University of Victoria's Sexual Assault Centre 2008).  Like most statistics which rely on self reporting or are reported on when a situation is discovered, these stats could easily be an under estimate and don’t reflect life time risk of sexual assault. 

Why am I writing about this?  As a naturopathic doctor I am trained to evaluate and treat the whole person.  That requires attention to the past because the body has memory, and experiences are reflected in our how our bodies work. This is well studied and is represented in the disciple psychoneuroimmunology. This means studying how the mind and emotions affect our nervous and immune systems.  If 33% of women have been abused before age 18, that means 1/3 of female patient’s  have been abused.  How is this affecting women’s reproductive health for example? What about their mental health?  What about the men who have been abused - what are the health outcomes from their traumas?  

We have sky rocketing rates of depression and anxiety and the wide spread violation of personal boundaries has to be contributing to this.  Health is complex and many diseases or issues like PMS or erectile dysfunction are affected by a multitude of factors.  From a ‘whole-istic' perspective we need to assess all factors affecting health including our collective attitudes.  What we do or don’t talk about, and how we talk about issues like Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud being hacked reflects where we are when it comes to understanding sexual abuses and personal boundary violations.  We cannot fix what we don’t understand and we will continue to see sexual abuse in our communities if we don’t work on having conscious and respectful conversations about it. 

In Whole Health, 
Dr Erin