The minute you start referring to yourself as a survivor rather than a victim is the minute everything changes.
The minute you’re able to say “I was raped” instead of using every word you can find except rape, is the minute you reclaim your power.
You’re still here, you made it through and no matter what happened to you in the past, you’re bad ass because you survived hell. You survived not only a physical trauma but the psychological torture that comes with it.
In the past year I stopped stumbling over my words and just came out with it, and it made a huge difference. Not gonna lie, it made me revisit those events and opened up the box I’d stashed those memories away in but now I’m facing them, and while the journey is far from over I feel confident enough that I can do it. I know that being a survivor means I can make it through.
I know that being a survivor means I can make it through telling my story. So believe me when I tell you that one day you too will be strong enough to tell your story, and that you too are a survivor.
Sometimes I think surviving rape and sexual assault is worse than those who don’t survive, the ones whose lives are taken, because for us it means reliving and retelling it over and over and over again, and sometimes those traumas lead people down a very dark path. Far too often people who ‘survive’, don’t really survive, they end up on the streets after falling down a hole of drugs, alcohol and allowing themselves to be used, all to numb any feelings. Anything to stop reliving it.
For some it can mean rape kits, which by the way, are just as intrusive and unwanted but the necessity wins out and a lot of women agree to them in the hopes they can receive justice.
For some it means a line up. Seeing your abuser again in the flesh and having to point them out, or flicking through photos till their face appears and brings that knot to your stomach.
For some it’s days in court spent looking at the abuser who took everything from you. Even though they didn’t take your physical life, you sure as hell don’t feel like the one you’re left with is worth anything. You don’t feel like you are worth anything.
For some it’s the gut wrenching feeling of the abuser being found not guilty; for others it’s the relief of the abuser being sent to prison.
For some its decades of self doubt, self loathing and anxiety topped off with all levels of cognitive therapy. It’s wondering who knows and who doesn’t, who’s now looking at or treating you differently?
But none of those things last.
You will be so much stronger than you know.
I wish I could tell you when, but I’m no oracle.
All I know is that time will make it feel better.
You will be a survivor; no longer a victim.