ON a daily basis setting boundaries and placing limits isn’t something that many of us give a second thought. For the most part, we feel comfortable letting the people in our lives know what their parameters are. We are able to verbalize which actions we are comfortable with and which ones offend or upset us. Survivors of sexual violence struggle with being able to place boundaries and limitations on those they let into their lives and how those people affect them. Remember sexual assault is an infringement of their boundaries, there was an attempt to say no whether verbally or physically, and that was ignored. So in many ways, they have learnt that people don’t respect their boundaries. For so long survivors have been taught to do what pleases everyone around them: their abuser, their family, and their community. Their boundaries were violated when they were younger or older those who should have protected them, those they thought they could trust, betrayed them. This left them not knowing whom they could trust; it left them unable to decipher what boundaries are healthy and which ones are not.
It can be difficult to place boundaries and limits on whom you let into your life and how much you are willing to take from them. Recovering and healing requires that we make difficult decisions. In the Caribbean we are very family oriented, the family is placed above all else. What then are we to do when one is sexually assaulted and their family asks that they keep quiet, when their family asks that they not ruin their abuser’s life or the family’s reputation? What else are they to do when the family they turn to for support lets them down? You sit and bury all the pain and suffering that you’ve experienced, you let the boundaries be pushed and although you’ve more than reached your limit you continue to take all that is shoved at you. In time you will gather the strength to place your boundaries and limits on those in your life that take too much from you. In time you will be able to put you above the family, community, and abuser. In time you will be able to loosen the hold they have on you and put you first. In time you will be able to set you boundaries, doing what is right for you.
I know it is hard, I know you feel weak, hurt and alone at times. Know you are not alone and definitely not weak. Yes you may be hurting. So much was taken from you by your abuser and so much is expected from you by those who are continuously letting you down. We all have a breaking point, a point at which you are not willing to take anymore. The time will come when you stand up for you. Don’t be hard on yourself; this can be one of the hardest parts of your journey. The fight for you and what is best for you, at times against those closest to you. You will get there. You are strong and brave. You have gone through so much and you get up everyday continuing to strive for happiness. You will get there.
Survivors of sexual assault need a supportive environment to begin the healing process. They need to believe and feel that they are part of a culture that doesn’t support individuals who commit sexual crimes. We have to be the difference we want to see in our country. We have to be willing to start to make change. We, at PROSAF, have acknowledged that violence against women is a problem in St. Lucia and the wider Caribbean. We are here to begin the metamorphosis that is desperately needed. We are always here to listen and if you are not ready to come forward but need a listening ear, feel free to contact us. Remember that Sexual assault is something that happens to people, it does not define them, and it is something that was done to them. Survivors, Victims, Thrivers remember you are a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman/child/man who has suffered a trauma through no fault of your own. You are not guilty of any crime, something was done to you against your will Sexual Assault is something that happened to you, it does not define you. You are worthy of love and happiness. Always remember that you are not alone, that you have nothing to be ashamed of. We are taking the baby steps necessary to make it better for all. KNOW YOU HAVE A SAFE SPACE IN PROSAF. If you are interested in finding out more information about sexual violence and what you can do as part of this community, please feel free to contact us at:
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com
Facebook: SURVIVING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CARIBBEAN: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PROSAF-Surviving-Sexual-Abuse-in-the-Caribbean/165341356853908
Webpage: http://www.prosaf.org (under construction)
Telephone: 1-758-724-9991(sue) 1-758-723-6466(vel)