AS a survivor, there are the feelings of shame and guilt that one deals with on a daily basis. Questions like ‘What I did to deserve this?’ ‘Why me?’ ‘Was this my fault?’ constantly run through the minds of survivors. But while we must understand where the questions are coming from, it is important that you know you didn’t do anything thing to deserve this.
As a society, it is our job to understand that survivors of sexual violence are not at fault for what is/was done to them. We blame women who are raped for wearing revealing outfits, but then, how do we explain those raped when fully covered?
The answer is that rape is not about sex, but about power; it’s not about how an individual looks, what an individual is wearing, what kind of work an individual does (and so on), but about the decision an individual (the perpetrator) makes to exert his or her power and dominance over someone else. It is about the perpetrator needing to feel in control, needing to be able to exert that power over their victim.
We have continued to blame the survivor; we have relentlessly excused the perpetrator and we are sending the message that sexual violence is the survivor’s/victim’s fault. Apart from implying that it is the victim’s/survivor’s fault, sometimes we go so far as to actually say those words not realizing that they will forever be remembered by someone who has been sexually violated.
Uttering these words also reiterates in most cases what the perpetrators of these crimes are saying. We, as a society are ultimately placing the blame on the wrong person: the individual whose rights were ignored.
It is time that we educate ourselves and learn to address the issues that plague our society. It is time we honestly acknowledge that rape, incest, sexual assault, etc. is a problem in St. Lucia, a problem perpetrated by people we know.
I understand that we would prefer that people we know were not perpetrators, but I also guarantee that we would prefer not to have the people we love become victims of this crime.
It is difficult to understand why in this day and age we have to try to convince society, political leaders and governmental organizations that there is a need to be better equipped to address sexual violence. It is puzzling to understand why we need to convince society that they way to address the issue should never be to blame the survivor.
The discussion should no longer be about what the survivor/victim did to cause someone to sexually violate them. It should be about how we educate people on sexual violence, how we ensure that perpetrators fear the repercussions of their actions will be punished, that they will not be protected by us.
We need to show survivors/victims that we are here to support them. When a girl/boy is sexually assaulted, their view on life is forever altered and there is nothing that we can do to change what has happened to them. But there is a chance for us to help them through it, to give them the support they need to get through the terrible ordeal that has been forced on them.
There is a chance to ensure that perpetrators of this crime know there is a ZERO TOLERANCE where the law is concerned.
HELP US HELP SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE, HELP US MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
FORCED/COERCED SEXUAL VIOLENCE IS NEVER THE FAULT OF THE VICTIM. PLACE THE BLAME ON THE INDIVIDUAL/S WHO DECIDE TO COMMIT THIS CRIME.
Let 2019 be the year you (victims/survivors) start your healing journey. Take the time you need but start. I know it is difficult, scary and tiring and all the other emotions that will arise, but start. Start small — and again, when you are ready.
We are always here to listen and help if you ever need, reach out. Our articles this year will start coming from the book “The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis.
This is our way of getting the information in the books to you, so our next article will be based on Recognizing the Effects Caused by Sexual Violence.
We are open to making our articles about topics you are interested in around Sexual Violence. We are also here to answer questions you may have through the articles. Reach out to us via social Media or email if you have a question you want answered in our weekly articles or a topic you want discussed.
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, but it does not define them, as it is something that was done to them.
Survivors, Victims and 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, but you are always 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:
SouyenneDathorne, Velika Lawrence
Email: email@example.com – the 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)
Telephone: 1-758-724-9991 (Sue) 1-758-723-6466 (Vel)