By Lavinia Masters
Darkness in contrast with brightness is a relative absence of visible light. It has an appearance of black in a color space. When light is not present, rod and cone cells within the eye are not stimulated and this lack of stimulation means that photoreceptor cell are unable to distinguish color frequency and wave length. The resulting perception is achromatic (or without color) and in the case of darkness…black.
The emotional reaction to darkness has metaphorical importance in many cultures…such as science: a dark object absorbs photons (a quantum of visible light) and therefore appears dim in comparison to other objects. Therefore light can simply be absorbed without limit because energy like visible light cannot be created or destroyed. It can however only be converted from one type of energy to another. Most objects absorb visible light and remit it as an infrared light so although an object may appear dark; it is likely bright at frequency that a human eye cannot see.
Then if we speak poetically about darkness we find that darkness can also mean the presence of shadows, evil and depression. Religious texts often use darkness to make a visual point. In the Bible, darkness was the second to last plague (Exodus 10:21) and the location of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). The use of darkness as a rhetorical device has a long standing tradition. Shakesphere referenced satan in his plays as the “prince” of darkness; while Chaucer a 14th Century Middle English writer, wrote that knights must cast away the “worker of darkness” and Dante described hell as “solid darkness stained”.
Moreover if we speak about darkness artistically we discover that darkness can also be used to emphasize or contrast with light. Take color paints for example they are mixed together to create darkness because each color absorbs certain frequencies of light.
So emotionally, physically and mentally this is the place where I dwelled after July 31, 1985…darkness. This was the night that I was brutally raped and attacked in the privacy of my own home as a child. This is the night that I thought day would never come and my “dark areas” had so limited light sources that it made things hard to see.
My life was in contrast with brightness, my life had an absence of visible light, my life had the appearance of “black” in all my color space and because there was no light present my life was no longer stimulated and because I could no longer distinguish life from death my will to survive was “black”.
It was not until after I almost lost all that I had, which was my family, that I realized that the overshadowing of my darkness was way too loud and I needed to find my way back to light. I not only desired to be visible to the human eye but I desired my life, heart, soul and purpose to be stimulated. I desired to begin to distinguish my joys from my pains and to replace my fears with bravery. I no longer wanted to absorb all the mixed emotions and self inflicted pain that being a victim carries.
I had to understand and believe that the visible light that God had created within me was not created by my circumstances so therefore it could not be destroyed by my circumstances. I realized that a victim that lives in the shadows of darkness not lonely remains depressed but has a tendency of depressing everyone that comes into contacts with them. When I looked into the mirror I did not like what I could not see…I did not see life, I did not see hope, I did not see a future, I did not see joy, I did not see peace and worst of all I could not see me.
Sexual and relationship violence are occurrences that no one likes to talk about but unfortunately they are indeed occurrences that happen every day…even as you read this blog. So as advocates and survivors we not only have to continue to speak up and out against these types of offences but we also have to learn how to protect, preserve and nourish the survivor in all of us.
As survivors we must learn that you are and deserve the best because God created you and designed you after His own image. A survivor is a person of worth, a person of beauty, a person of strength but most importantly a person of courage! Darkness has no place where there is worth and it cannot overshadow beauty… let it also be understood that darkness is weak where there is strength and darkness breaks loose where courage presides.
Let your light shine through your darkness…let your light lead you from the darkness.
Lavinia B. Masters is the Founder of S.A.V.E. Ministries which assists victims of sexual abuse and intimate partner violence in the Dallas, TX area, and the author of Breathe Again.