This post may contain stories or triggers memories that may be difficult for you, the reader, to consume. I apologize for that, but this website is entirely about talking about the things that we do not talk about. If you or someone you know needs help, please use this page to find a helpline phone number in your area. If you can’t find it on this list, please use any search engine in the world. You are not alone.
Netflix does not pay people to participate in documentaries. I don’t know the reasons why and I don’t particularly care why your response is “nope we’re not going to pay you,” because I want to focus on the reasons that we absolutely must pay survivors for educating us about their stories.
Survivor Trauma Is a Cycle That Becomes Reactivated Every Time We Have To Talk About It
When we talk about our stories people don’t understand what fully goes into talking about our stories. It’s bad enough that we have to deal with it, to begin with in the first place, but then when we have to explain to people what we’ve been through, many of us often feel like instead of explaining what happened, what we’re really doing is trying to justify our reaction to what happened.
There’s a “this is our punishment,” factor that goes into telling our story. Even though we do it because we never want it to happen to anyone else again and that’s the legit reason we talk about this stuff, it can feel often like we’re just trying to scrape the barrel of all the things that could go wrong, meanwhile, most people are focusing on the “how did you survive?” part instead of the “what can we do to help?” part.
You Don’t Know What Happens After “The Talk,” is Over
In a regular “standing in front of you” setting, after you’ve given a talk about what you’ve been through, everyone wants to talk about you and ask questions, and they are trying really hard often to be respectful, but most times they don’t understand that your adrenaline is running high.
You’ve just had to speak about what you’ve been through, in a clinical voice, focusing on making the people who hear your story feel comfortable and safe, and very few of them are understanding that “in this moment,” you are not feeling comfortable or safe. They think that you’re “over it,” because you’re talking about it, that’s literally the worst belief to have because no…they are not over it.
For many of us, there are tears, there is quiet time, isolation, perhaps even some drug or alcohol use, maybe over medication in some cases. We are triggered, we’re raw, we’re tired, we feel like we’ve expressly ripped ourselves open, and the wounds are now brand new and fresh all over again.
We’re tired, we’ve fundamentally burned the fuck out, and we don’t want to answer your questions. Say hi, say thank you if you feel you must introduce yourself, and if you want to speak further, ask for contact details to get in contact later. RIGHT After a talk on trauma, is not the time to approach the speaker and blurt out all your own traumas, we’ve just ripped open our own, give us some time to re-heal.
Sensory Overload is a Thing
Speaking on, or sometimes even hearing someone else speak on trauma, can cause all our alarm bells to go overboard, and often times we think that we’re alone, but even when we’re in a room filled with people, we can feel like we’re back in the same hole that we used to escape the original trauma, to begin with, so when we say that education isn’t free, what we mean is, if you don’t pay the cost of what it takes for us to tell our story, then we will absolutely have to.
Some of the most famous people in the world get paid to speak about their trauma, but to them, it’s a one-time thing, an event, a charity experience, a chance to say “I’m more than you see on television,” but for those of us that speak on trauma or healing from trauma on a daily basis, we don’t get a break.
We don’t get to get our nails done or go for regular massages, we don’t have other jobs that take our brains away from mental health because our focus is 100% on mental health all the time.
So for you, trauma is an occasional conversation, but for us, it’s our job. It’s our job to EDUCATE the rest of the world about stuff they don’t necessarily know is happening in the world, and so when it comes to education, we all know that it’s absolutely not free.
“What Should Educators Get Paid For Giving Talks on The Varieties of Trauma?“
Although many people will tell you that the minimum should be based on what you can afford to pay, I will say that anything short of $500 an hour, is absolutely evil. You think that seems like a lot of money, but the problem is that it’s only a lot of money if you’re making $500 an hour every day for 52 weeks out of the year.
If you’re only doing one or two talks a year, it’ll be gone by the end of the day on bills.
That’s not even a quarter of my rent, so please, spare me the “we can’t afford you,” then don’t ask. Period. Most people who are public speakers will email you their prices and do the dance of “well what about this.” I won’t, I refuse, and the reasons I’ve listed above are why. If you’d like to hire me, in a professional setting to speak on healing from trauma, and the mental health consequences of dealing with trauma, then you’ll have to pay what I charge.
Even a fifteen-minute speaking engagement, can come often with hanging around the event afterwards and talking to other guests and other speakers, answering questions, so if you want me at your event, “this is what I charge,” and it’s not going to change to make YOU more comfortable, because at thE end of the day, trauma or not, I still have to eat.
A Paid Survivor Is a Validated Survivor
Many people think that they are doing us all a favour by allowing us – yes ALLOWING us. -to have space on their platform to share our story, but here’s the thing, when you do that, what you’re really doing is saying “I believe you, I trust you, and I want to give you space to tell others.” But when that space is only offered on the chance that we speak for free, you invalidate our experiences, our education, and our newly acquired skills by telling us that what we now know, isn’t worth paying for.
I’ve been accused before, of writing “rants” that don’t offer solutions, but again, if I, as Devon J Hall, The Loud Mouth Brown Girl, have to give you the problems with “hiring volunteers,” instead of “paying your contracts,” then the solutions as well, I’m educating you for free, and like I said, my time is money. – Carmella
Sending All My Love,
Devon J Hall