SURVIVORS/victims of sexual violence often feel weak, ugly and unimportant. For so long you may have been told that you were ugly, that you were in the way, you may have felt weak because although you hated what was happening you were unable to do anything to stop it. Your abuser may have used this against you saying that if you hated what was happening or wanted it to stop, you would have fought harder, told someone or done more to stop it.
Hearing those words may have made something shift in you; it may have made you start to question whether or not you were to blame for this all along. Your abuser may have been told that he was the only one who saw or understood your beauty. He may have said that no one else would find you attractive and therefore no one else would be interested in you or want you. You may be feeling weak psychologically because you expected more from yourself and believe you are a failure. You may be feeling that you can’t do anything right, that you, will go nowhere. You may have confided in a family member who did nothing. You may be wondering whether you were not important enough to protect and fight for. What follows next is not to pacify you but to let you know that what you are feeling and thinking is normal. It is to let you know that many survivors and victims of sexual violence are having the same thoughts and emotions as you, that you are not alone, that you are not crazy or broken beyond repair. I sometimes think that we are fractured because of what was done to us, but fractures heal and so can we.
Survivors are unable to see themselves clearly. You are unable to see that you possess an immense amount of strength. You have gone through something terrible; something that was meant to break you beyond repair; but every day you got up, you took care of your siblings, your children. You got up went through every day bearing your pain silently. You did more than you should have been asked to and never complained. You dealt with the horrible hand you were dealt and still stood strong. You coped in the best way that you could, but you made it through everyday. You may feel ugly, unattractive and somehow stained or tainted by what was done to you.
I want you to know that you are beautiful, that you have a desire to survive and live. I want you to know that what your abuser did to you did not taint or stain you. You are not dirty. Your beauty and strength radiates from the inside out, and while you may not be able to see it; so many can. It will take time but bit by bit you too will start to see your worth, your beauty, your strength. You may feel that you are insignificant and small. I want to tell you that you matter, you are an inspiration to so many women, girls, men, boys who are going through the same things. They may have heard what was done to you and see you as a sign that there is hope. You are not unimportant; those who should have done more to protect and care for you failed you. Your feelings were born because of how you were treated and it is understandable that you feel this way but you matter. You have impacted some life, there is someone out there who would hurt terribly if they didn’t have you around; there is someone out there who genuinely loves you.
Sexual assault by its very nature imparts so much pain, hurt, and continuous torture on the survivor or victim, but I would like you to know that there is hope, that there is a way to heal, that no matter what you were told, that you are BEAUTIFUL, IMPORTANT, INTELLIGENT AND WORTHY. I want you to remember that YOU ARE NOT GUILTY, THAT YOU DID NOTHING TO BRING THIS ON YOURSELF. YOUR LIFE IS NOT OVER. DON’T LET YOUR PAST DICTATE YOUR FUTURE. DON’T LET WHAT WAS DONE TO YOU DEFINE YOU. YOU ARE STRONG.
We at PROSAF are always here to listen and support you. Feel free to contact us via the information below. If you are interested in becoming a sexual assault advocate please contact us for further information. Remember you are not alone. You are strong and brave. You will get through your healing process but it takes time and patience. We are here to help and listen. Feel free to contact us if you ever need a place to offload or vent. We are available for group and individual counseling.
SouyenneDathorne, Velika Lawrence & Rebecca Hayes
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