Here’s the deal. Walkers (Zombies) lack vitality. They possess no meaningful life. They are victims in the form of a dead body moving through life empty with non-functional and missing parts. Are you a Walker?
When you hold onto past injustices you are left holding onto the role of a Walker (Zombie). First, would you agree we all have been injured at some point by another person? Maybe you are a person who has suffered horrific abuse as a child. Maybe you have been betrayed by a loved one you trusted. Sometimes your mind tells you don’t have anything to complain about. You didn’t have bruises or broken bones. Still you experience a heavy deadness brought on by the sadness and sorrow living in your heart. You wish you could pluck the pain out of you mind and heart like a weed. It is not that easy. Everything we have experienced, seen, heard, and felt is held within our amazing body and that includes our mind (brain). There are no leaks like a sieve riddled zombie. Our whole being is an additive system built to learn and remember. In other words, we are stuck with our history. Consequently, this mean you have unpleasant and unwanted memories you can’t just get rid of without a lobotomy.
Does life feel like you have a black cloud over your dead body? Are you struggling to live life by building a casket for your pain so you can bury it? If this feel like a familiar experience then let me introduce you to the legal concept of corpus delicti.
Corpus delicti in Latin literally means the “body of evidence” as in the material proof needed to prove a crime has been committed. Corpus delicti is the actual victim’s body in a murder case. It can also be the remains of a charred building which has been burned to the ground by arson. Corpus delicti is the objective proof used to convict a person of a crime and hold them responsible. Without the body of evidence a person can be acquitted. They might get off the hook!
The question I find interesting when it comes to the concept of corpus delicti in connection to non-material injustices is as follows. ‘If you feel okay and life is fulfilling and you are engaged in pursuing meaningful endeavors has a wrong occurred? Have you been harmed?’ Simply said, ‘Are you harmed if you are not hurting?’ Why is this question important? Your answer can have an impact on your perspective of life. Your perspective influences your sense of vitality and happiness?
Let’s look at the following scenario. A person comes to therapy who is an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I consider this to be a tragedy on a lot of different levels. When this person comes in for therapy they often have a goal of getting rid of the pain (the memory) so they can feel better and live a happy life. Sometimes, and maybe you feel this way, they think they are damaged or broken. They want to be fixed. Quite often, like many of us, they feel angry, depressed (perhaps suicidal), anxious and hurting. Are you a corpus delicti (body of evidence)? Are you, your pain and suffering, proof a crime has been committed. What happens if and when you feel better? Does it mean there was no crime? I call this stage of healing the walker stage. We all walk though the land of named victimhood. The Zur Institute offers a clear picture of the landscape of victimhood.Check it out here.
You do not have to be a victim of childhood sexual abuse to know you have wounds from childhood. Since our parents, teachers, clergy and other care takers are fallible we have experienced disappointed, we all have been let down in one way or another. We all have a some form of a childhood wound such as mild neglect, rejection, abuse or even being bullied by our peers. Furthermore, it is natural to have memories and feel the sting of past hurt. What can you do about it?
The Zur Institute provides a definition of the innocent victim as a category of people who do not share any responsibility of the offence with the perpetrator. What this means is that we cannot expect them (the victim) to have been able to avert the offense by anticipating it or preventing it. In essence, the victim is/was defenseless.
- Children who are sexually or physically abused, or neglected.
- Rape or murder victims when the crime is unforeseen, unprovoked, and perpetrated by complete strangers.
- Severely mentally ill or disabled adults who get hurt or exploited.
- Those who suffer a crime while unconscious.
- Victims of random or rampage shooting.
- Victims of unexpected natural disasters: victims of earthquake in a non-earthquake zone.
- Victims of corporate greed, such as those perpetuated by corporations who sell genetically modified foods which cause cancer, or corrupt banking practices, which scheme people of their savings or homes.
You can add your own example. An example I added is people who suffer from health problems they are born with or develop not caused by their own neglect. Do you see yourself as innocent yet feel guilty? Do you think or feel as if your very existence is wrong? This can be a symptom of being the body of evidence? What now? Will you claim your life back?
Living Beyond ‘The Body of Evidence’
This part is a little tricky. I do not claim to have the one answer nor do I claim to have all the answers. To begin with I believe in justice and people should be held responsible for their actions. The dilemma is when justice does not happen in a manner that repairs the harm inflicted. You have probably experienced this when you expected someone to sincerely apologize and it did not happen. In extreme cases such as murder, rape, or sexual abuse where the perpetrator is sentenced to jail rarely do they show remorse or admit wrong doing. Then what? You might find yourself in a struggle to understand why the perpetrator doesn’t feel remorse. . The question of, “Why/” becomes a bottomless pit.
You are on the hook (with your perpetrator) and left holding the bag in the bottomless pit. What’s in your bag? Hurt, suffering, pain, anger, resentment, vengeance, hate, frustration, hopelessness, depression, righteous indignation, rage, you name it!! Does the bag feel heavy? Can you let it go? Does the bag morph so that it ends up being your purpose in life? Whew!
What happens if you let go of the bag? Does it mean the harm inflicted is acceptable? Absolutely not! It means now is a time to explore your idea of living well. Now is the time to focus on living beyond the body of evidence. This stage of healing is the integration of trauma, both small and large. Integration leads to becoming differentiated from the perpetrator, as well as other people in your life. I call it freedom. You are in a fluid position of being able to see and know from different perspectives the history of your life with all its ups and downs. You can be here and now and know about then and there. You can remember then and there and see yourself here now. One step further, you can image about the future looking toward it and from within at the present moment You are capable of gently holding with loving kindness your own life including both the light and the dark moments. Living well is the ability to turn your focus toward meaningful and fulfilling endeavors based on your desire. Not as a distraction or way of avoidance. Without hesitation, I strongly believe this is a time of becoming whole.You can focus your time and energy in creating a life beyond trauma.
(C) 2016 Brenda Bomgardner
Stewart Walker says
Really interesting read and very enjoyable and informative. I have a very strong opinion on fair justice and do get angry when I hear about the perpetrators getting off lightly. However I do accept what you said above and I understand that it cannot be easy to move on if you are the victim of an injustice or perceived injustice.
Wise words indeed!
Brenda Bomgardner says
Stewart, welcome to Creating Your Beyond blog. Glad to have you stop by and share your thoughts.
Acceptance of your own feelings is part of choosing to be alive with feelings. Anger is certainly understandable when suffering from an unjust situation. The question is not about real or perceived injustice as that is in the eyes of the survivor.
My thoughts on anger. Sometimes it is anger that moves us toward wholeness again after being victimized. I believe we can have anger and still live a life that is fulfilling and meaningful based on our what matters to us in our hearts.
Have you had a bad thing happen to you or a loved one and you made a choice to turn away from revenge, depression, hatred, or violence and engage in behaviors that infuse your life with a sense of vitality? I am not suggesting ignoring or pretending nothing bad happened. I am suggesting embracing the yin and yang of what life holds. Life holds for each and every one of us some degree of pain as well as contentment. Can we be with all our feelings, sensations, thoughts, memories and urges without struggling at casting them aside as if orphans on the street?
I am with you in holding people accountable for their behaviors that harm another. Accountability may include many forms of justice such as reparitive justice, social justice, and formal penal justice as punishment.
a final thought, one way to move from being the body of evidence is to practice mindfulness as it helps us live in the moment. Do you have suggestions as to how people can live with an unjust past or present?