In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month One Student contributing writer shares a bit of her story and journey in a piece she calls STRENGTH.
It is not your fault.
If you are a victim of violence, you might not consciously know it. You might not want to recognize it. You might know but are afraid to admit it to anyone, even to yourself. You might have told someone, but they didn’t believe you. Someone might have told you, but you denied it.
I’ve been in that place; I understand.
Today, I am a survivor. However, that doesn’t mean I am 100% “cured.” Being a survivor doesn’t mean that after five years and some months of progress that I don’t have flashbacks and nightmares. It doesn’t mean that I don’t do a double-take at look-alikes, that I don’t screen my calls, or that sometimes I don’t make the same mistakes over again.
I am an amazing person.
It has taken what seems decades to get to this point in my life, but I made it. You are strong too, even if you can’t see it. Even if right now, the world is crashing down and you are in a place of hurt. You are alive, and you are beautiful. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, and it never ends; it is a continual journey that will be with you forever.
Do not take my friendship for granted.
We live in a society, a culture, where rape and violence and non-heterosexuality are jokes and that is NOT okay. Would you make light of Rwandan genocide or child abuse? I know when to say ‘enough is enough’ even if others are silent because no one should feel socially uncomfortable or attacked. Whether I have shared my past with you or not, there is never an instance when those subjects could be funny. Ever. Those in my life who choose to actively promote rape culture are no friends of mine. I applaud those who do intervene and take a stand to break social norms.
You are not alone.
There are wonderful days and weeks, and then there are hours from hell that drag on without end. The best way to get through is for me to remember I am not alone. You are not alone. Find a support network through friends—even one friend—or family, self-help books and support groups, social network sites and blogs… every situation is different, but what we all have in common is experience and compassion. A friend may not have personally gone through what you or I have, but they can be equally supportive and as good of a listener as someone who has.
When you are ready, share your story.
It gives hell a little less heat to feel so empowered and in-charge. Tears and shivers and emotions you were unaware of have the capability for release of the stress, shame, and fear. It was never your fault, you are amazing, and you are not alone.