SEXUAL Violence isn’t something that we can overlook, ignore or down play. It isn’t something that only affects one gender, or a certain class or a specific type of person. It affects us all and no-one is immune to becoming a victim. I have seen many find it hard to support a survivor of sexual violence. Many find it difficult to accept that a woman was violated and that she did nothing to cause this violation. When it comes to children, because we can’t accept that a woman did nothing then the child must have done something to cause this, but this is harder to accept and so we ignore what is happening to them. We let it continue and turn a blind eye because if we accept one we must accept the other. We prefer not to accept anything and instead to let crimes of this nature continue to increase. We have too many pre-conceived notions about the way that sexual violence happens and what kind of person it happens to. For example, not many accept that a man can be raped by a woman, many of us choose to ridicule the fact that this could potentially happen. Our responses to sexual violence are ridiculous, we blame the victim regardless of age or gender, we dissect the situation in which the assault occurred always favoring the version that exonerates the individual who committed the crime.
Positive Responses to sexual violence are desperately needed, they not only let survivors know that when they choose to share their stories that they will be believed but they also let the rapists and pedophiles know that sexual assault isn’t something that is tolerated . We often wonder why survivors never come forward; it is often because they feel judged, blamed and not supported. It is not your place to judge, no survivor asks to be violated no one wants to be violated. The response of she/he did something to cause this is ridiculous, because we don’t blame the individual who is a victim of a burglary, we understand that another individual thought it would be ok to break into a home and steal. We have violent responses to those who decide to enter our homes without our permission and take out property. But the man/woman who breaks into someone’s body, who steals their right to be/feel safe in their body is excused. Try to imagine what one feels like having someone force themselves on them and in them. Knowing there is no-one to help, no-one to listen. Survivors of sexual violence very often feel isolated because no-one understands their pain or tries to. Let us begin to change that, take the time to listen, validate and support survivors. Our responses to sexual violence have been passive, we have allowed and excused the continuous rape of our men, women and children. What’s worse is that we have told them they caused this, they were too sexual, too nice, too naïve too confused, too indecisive. We have told them that they wanted this, they wanted to be violated, they caused their violation and as a result they should take what comes with it. Sexual Violence is a huge problem in St.Lucia, but I am not telling you something you don’t know. So instead I will ask that you try to understand what happens when one is violated, I will ask that you not be too quick to excuse the rapist. Someone you know is a survivor, someone you know is struggling with the effects of being sexually violated.
To the survivors I ask that you try to begin to heal the wounds of both the past and the present. I ask that you begin to try to understand how you have been affected by this trauma and to figure out a way forward. Please don’t give up. This is your story, yes the initial narration was not within your power to create but the rest is; you get to decide how your story ends. Sexual assault in any form is scary, traumatizing, triggering and leaves you with scars both physical and psychological. Our scars don’t go away but they fade with time; the pain, anger, shame and isolation you feel now can be shed, it takes time, it takes patience. Your path forward once you have decided that you are ready to begin the healing journey will not be easy, it will not happen overnight, it is something that will require time. You will have to learn to be patient with yourself, you will have to learn to understand your triggers and figure out how you can counteract them, you will have to learn to set healthy boundaries and you will have to learn to be ok with putting you first. Your healing journey will require you to put you first, to put your healing and a chance at a better life first. I know it is scary, the tasks ahead seem daunting, this isn’t something that can be rushed. Take baby steps, but begin no matter how small the step, begin.
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, 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: email@example.com – firstname.lastname@example.org
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)