It Is Not Your Duty to Be the Perfect Survivor
4 Things You Need to Tell Yourself If You Have Survived Sexual Violence
1. It is NEVER your fault.
Sexual violence is a REAL issue. It can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, race, or religious preference. It is very easy to blame yourself as well as for others to blame you. The truth is, it is never your fault, plain & simple. It does not matter if you were drunk. It does not matter what you were wearing. It does not matter if you were walking in a dark alley late at night by yourself. The person who commits this horrendous act is solely to blame for their actions, not you. So forget what people may say, forget what society pushes upon you, and forget what the media shoves down your throat. The more people that can stand up against shaming the survivors, the more we can work together to end this epidemic.
2. Just because you didn't report the incident when it happened, doesn't mean it is any less real.
Being sexually assaulted is scary. It is down right terrifying. Especially when the perpetrator is someone you know and someone you trusted. So many acts of sexual violence go unreported because we are told by society to just "forget about it" or "just move on" or "it was your fault you put yourself in that situation." When something so tragic happens to you, it is perfectly normal to go to a deep, dark place and try and suppress the event. With so many allegations of sexual violence and harassment swarming the media lately, I am so sick and tired of people asking, "Well why now, why are they just now speaking out?" Maybe it's because the survivor did not even realize what had even happened to them at the time. Maybe they were threatened to keep the secret. Maybe now that the survivor sees how rampant this problem is, they feel a little more safe and comfortable sharing their story. So for the love of God, it is NOT anyone's place to ask "why now?" ESPECIALLY if you yourself have been fortunate enough to never experience being sexually violated.
3. You don't owe anyone your story.
If you feel comfortable sharing your story, then by all means, do so. And if you don't feel comfortable sharing your story, I would at least advise you to tell your story to a counselor and or just write it all out on paper. You can rip the paper up, burn it, keep it, do whatever it is you need to do in order to heal. You don't need to tell the perfect media newsworthy story either. You don't need to be the hero. All that matters is that you are able to find some way to cope and heal in a healthy way and everyone does this differently and that is okay. Telling your story is all about YOU, and quiet frankly if the person who violated you is punished in any way, then so be it. No one deserves to have their power, their innocence, or their trust stripped away from them by a sexual predator. Whether it be physical or verbal, it is WRONG and it does hurt and leave a permanent scar.
4. This event does NOT define who you are.
The process of healing from sexual violence is much like grieving. It is something that does not ever really go away, but it goes from being this giant boulder you carry on your shoulders, to being a small pebble you can just keep in your back pocket. You are more than the tragedy you experienced. You may notice you are more aware, more weary of people, and less trusting. This is also normal behavior, and time really does heal. It may take months or years for you to get to a place where you don't have nightmares or flash backs, but I promise you one day, you will be able to tell your story, if you so chose to, with a sense of power instead of a sense of shame.
About the author
I am a 27 year old mother, wife, and student. I love to write. Sharing my stories and experiences to bring awareness and show support for mental illness and domestic violence. I also do some food writing for fun.