Hi, I’m Sophie and I lost my virginity when I was 14.
It was not by choice.
It wasn’t even the worst part; to be robbed of my virginity without consent.
While I still get flash backs and physical memory,(my body just freezes at times), the words spoken to me in the aftermath are constantly with me.
The saddest part is I’m not alone. How we’re meant to feel after rape and sexual assault can last for the rest of our lives, often longer than the memory of any pain or discomfort. The words spoken to us by those we love, by those we knew would believe us and by those we assumed love or care for us enough to believe us can have last damage or help us heal. Are you choosing the right words?
You may have learnt to deal with the physical trauma responses but how do you silence your inner voice?
In the weeks following my assault my friend accused me of lying about it, all because she was dating his friend. Those words spread round town and even though the case went to court, where he was found guilty and showed no remorse, I was still under scrutiny from the people I knew.
My Grandma, a Jehovah’s Witness, was more concerned about the shame she would feel when those at the congregation would ask her about it than the shame and disgust I was feeling. Overhearing the conversation between her and my equally religious Uncle hurt.
My Mother was annoyed by the fact I was “laying about the place as if nothing had happened”. What I was actually doing was falling in to a pit of depression that I had to find my way out of, by myself. The therapist I was sent to see was a friend of my Mother, so I didn’t feel I could actually open up to her, so there wasn’t really a hand to help me out of the depression.
My Father was more interested in his anger towards the man who committed the assualt than how I was coping.
I get it, trauma has a butterfly effect and it can impact a whole family but the reality is the trauma happened to the one it physically happened to! If relatives could put their energy in to helping the survivors instead of focusing on themselves, things could actually get better much quicker.
You could even talk about how you feel about the assault with someone professional instead of giving the one who lived through the trauma another reason to feel anxious and retraumatising them… just a thought.
They say how you make people feel sticks with them longer than what you did and it’s true. The first thing I remember about my experience is the words spoken by my Mum.
I recently asked my IG followers what they remember about their first post sexual assault memory and the results, to me, weren’t shocking.
Most of the answers were that they remembered how they felt, emotionally, rather than the physical trauma.
They remembered the feeling of shame and self blame.
They remembered their families treating them differently.
They remembered the feeling of confusion over how and why someone could do that to them.
The number of responses is nothing compared to the actual number of survivors, it just shows those who have processed the trauma enough to open up in someway. It doesn’t show the real number of sexual assault survivors.
Let’s break this down. A small portion of rape survivors opened up to me about their first memory after the event… each one remembered feelings more than physically trauma. There are more people out there suffering in silence over their feelings post assault and each one of them is going to feel a concoction of emotions non survivors couldn’t begin to comprehend.
Don’t make someone’s trauma about you. Ever. Even if you’re related to them. Their trauma is theirs and you need to respect that. Allow them to process it their own way without putting your feeling on to them.