Domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and rape are frightening, degrading, damaging and hurtful. Many people are survivors, but to truly survive the harm that has been done to our bodies, we must live beyond it. When I say live, I mean really LIVE. Have fun, laugh, dream, be successful, be happy. Feel safe. This can be nearly impossible without the proper support or tools.
Many victims feel shame for what happened to their bodies. Thoughts of what could have been done differently plague the mind and soul. It’s easy to feel isolated in the pain of the experience. But living in pain, living in fear, living in shame does not really mean living. That is barely surviving.
It is not your fault.
It doesn’t matter what you were wearing. It doesn’t matter what you were drinking. It doesn’t matter where you were or what your relationship was. It is not your fault. The pain you feel is not your fault. You do not deserve this.
Find your voice.
You can help process your experience and emotions by keeping a journal, finding a local support group, or seeking counseling. Telling your story out loud to someone helps to relieve some of the burden. You have a right to be heard. If you are reporting a crime to school administration, human resources, or the police you have the right to tell your full story and you have the right to be heard. People will listen to you and people will believe you.
You can’t just “get over it”, but you can make a choice to move forward. Healing can be a slow process and the scars, both physical and emotional, can last a very long time. That is okay. Healing is a journey, not a destination. Coping is a method, not a cure. Finding a safe space either within your community or with friends or family is a great first step. Seeking counseling or seeing a doctor can help you attain the necessary tools for living as a survivor. But, more than anything, surviving — healing — is a choice that you can only make when you are ready to fight back against the pain and damage.
You are not broken.
No matter what has been done, you are still here. They cannot break you. You are strong because you are alive. You are beautiful and you are perfect because of who and what you are. This trauma is something that has happened to you, not something that is you. You are not damaged.