Surviving a traumatic experience can leave one feeling isolated. No one understands my pain or what I am going through. You may wonder whether things will get better, whether things can get better, whether you are deserving of things being better. You may worry that it has been such a long time that it is too late to try healing. I’d like to say that it is never too late to start healing, never too late to heal. Surviving a trauma leaves many sitting in a cloud of uncertainty; did I do something to cause this, is this my punishment for something I’ve done, do I deserve a chance at a happier life? You deserve happiness. There is nothing that you could have done to make another person force themselves on you, to make someone coerce you into an act/ acts of sexual violence. Before going any further, I’d like to point out that some of the information in this article can be upsetting or triggering, it can bring back unwanted memories, memories you may have forgotten or buried. It can cause flashbacks. If at any point you feel triggered while reading this article please stop. Take a breath, don’t push yourself to continue. This article isn’t going anywhere. You can decide to read it at a later date or not at all. Remember to be gentle with yourself, Listen to your body and be aware of the signals it is sending you. Baby Steps are necessary on this journey. As we have been doing, we will continue to utilize the book “The Courage to Heal: A Guide for survivors of female sexual abuse” by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis as our guide.
Surviving any trauma can leave you wondering what the path to healing looks like and whether you are eligible to access it. Survivors of sexual violence often feel like they are undeserving of healing. They often feel like they are walking a road no one has travelled before, a road no one will understand. For survivors of sexual violence deciding to begin the healing journey can be an extremely difficult decision. The fear of beginning the healing journey can be very daunting. The thought of sharing your story, of opening up to someone about the trauma you survived is understandably worrisome. You may have convinced yourself overtime that you didn’t need to heal or that you were already healed. You may have blamed yourself for what happened effectively convincing yourself that the pain you feel is necessary, that it is what you deserve. This thought process serves to make you feel guilty for wanting/needing to heal. Your happiness is important, it is necessary. Your decision to begin the healing journey is the first step in taking back some control, to deciding what happens to your life. Yes it can be a selfish time because for once you are learning to put yourself and your needs first.
Your healing journey should be centeredaround you, around what you need, what you want, what will make you start to feel better. Survivors can feel like this is an investment in themselves that will take the spot light and focus off their families, their jobs, their responsibilities, etc. You may be unwilling to devote time to your healing at the expense of everything else. You deserve to be healed, you deserve to be able to be happy, you deserve a chance to feel in control, a chance to decide what happens with your life. Focusing on everything else but what you need is a coping mechanism. It has helped you to flourish in certain areas while keeping the other areas at bay. And while not focusing on other things has in some ways protected you from focusing on your trauma, it is not a permanent solution to the dealing with trauma. Sometimes the decision to heal can be further compounded by your religious beliefs, location, societal norms, age, etc. Sometimes the fact that we have been through a trauma is frowned upon. You are told that you aren’t allowed to be broken therefore there is no need for healing. We all go through things that traumatize us, all of us go through things that cause us pain and suffering. No one should make you feel that you don’t deserve to heal, no one should make you feel weak for having suffered through a trauma. You deserve to do this for you.
Survivors of sexual violence 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 violent 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 have to acknowledge that sexual crimes against anyone is never the fault of the victim but that of the individual who committed the action. We live in a world where everyday women are fighting for the rights to their bodies, to be seen, to be heard, to be given the opportunity to decide what is best for them. Sexual Violence against women is a problem in St. Lucia, in the Caribbean and in the world. Pretending it doesn’t exist is not making it less of a problem. It only serves to aid in the rapid growth of these types of crimes. 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 Violence 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 Violence 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