OVER the past couple of weeks we have discussed how difficult it can be for survivors as they navigate their healing journey. We have discussed how important it is for them to be supported. It is not easy traversing the healing journey much less when you have to do it alone. It is not easy to accept that someone you trusted and at the very least liked, decided to violate your boundaries.
It is not easy trying to understand why someone would violate those boundaries but then you also have to try to understand why no one would believe you, why no one would be there to support and validate your feelings. We continue to exist in a reality where victims/survivors are persecuted, ridiculed, taunted, shamed, vilified for the assault they experienced, for an act that was committed against their will. While we continue on in this week’s article, I want you to be aware of yourself.
I would like you to be aware of how you are being affected by the contents of the article. You may experience flashbacks, unwanted or forgotten memories may start to come up. Your palms may become sweaty, your heart may begin to race. Should that happen, take a step back, stop reading the article, take a moment to center yourself and remind yourself that in this moment you are safe. While the article is here to help educate and validate you, it will only help if you are willing to listen to yourself and acknowledge how you are being affected.
Generally, we don’t ask the important questions because we don’t want to face the answers nor do we want to acknowledge some of the harsh realities of life. We prefer not to delve into difficult issues. Instead we sit back and pretend that things are not as they appear. Sexual Violence has been a sad part of the history of women over the years. Women have been used and abused throughout the world over the years. We have all ignored this, justified it, excused it, normalized it and say that it is acceptable for men to take what they want from women, for their boundaries to come second to the wants of men.
It is convenient when we actively decide to ignore the harsh realities of life, when we don’t have to think about our part to play in crimes of this nature. Do we think that because we weren’t the individual committing the crime that we are absolved? NO, your part in being silent says that you not only condone these crimes but that you are saying that the criminal has every right to continue on violating people. After all, those people have all done something to make someone choose to walk in and violate them, to ignore their pleas of NO, to ignore their body language, to think that by coercing them into the act that it was a sign of acceptance. I am blaming you, I am blaming me, I am blaming us all as we continue to actively fail to do more to address sexual violence.
We are saying that our children deserve to be sexually abused, that they deserved it, that they wanted it, that they seduced the grown man or woman who chose to sexually violate them. I am blaming those of you who the survivor comes to for support and a safe haven who turn their backs on them and tell them that this is their fault and their problem. I am blaming you all as we have all collectively over the years allowed ourselves to become numb to the pain of what survivors of sexual violence are experiencing.
I am questioning those who take the side of the offender, what in your argument allows you to think that a child would be able to make a grown man or woman engage in sexually explicit activity, at what point do we begin to realistically place the blame on the adult who made the decision to violate the boundaries of another regardless of age , gender, sexuality, creed, socio economic status, job position, etc, at what point do we begin to acknowledge that something is truly wrong with the individual who chose to commit the act?
I am blaming those who don’t support survivors, who blame them for what they could neither stop nor control. SO yes, I am blaming us all, we have allowed sexual violence to continue on as it has, we have allowed it to get to a place where speaking out about it makes you a pariah and makes your assaulter the victim, we have allowed it to become normalized for sexual violence to happen and for it to be ok, normal, an act brought on by the victim, an act the victim wanted, an act the victim orchestrated. We are being ridiculous, things change when we are the ones victimized, but then what now?
Sexual Violence happens because we have a system where women are still seen as a sum of their parts, where they are disenfranchised because we live in a man’s world. Sexual violence happens because we are still having conversations about what women are allowed to do with their bodies. When did it become that a woman’s body was a topic of the law, I don’t see any of those laws about men. Sexual Violence continues because we shame and blame survivors; their clothing, their inability apparently to know what they want, their inability to say no and mean no. Have you realized that we have made it impossible for a victim of sexual violence to actually say no? Say NO, you really meant yes, say no, you wanted it anyways but were playing hard to get, say no and freeze up, it was a game that we were playing where you wanted it rough, say nothing because you are drunk or high, well you said yes anyway by not being able to say no. So someone please explain to me when no means no and what one is expected to do to not be sexually violated.
We worry about people judging us and never take time to reflect on what the survivor has just lived through. You are to blame if you keep this quiet, you are to blame if you let someone who sexually assaults you roam freely, you are to blame when you take the side of the offender and blame the victim.
To the victims/survivors, you probably want it all to go away, you want it not to have happened. The road to healing is never easy; you have to face some harsh realities about life, family, friends and those you love and trust. It means setting difficult boundaries, but necessary boundaries. Our boundaries help us take control and tell those around us what we are willing to accept and what we will not. As survivors we find that we are eager to please and find it hard to disappoint; but doing what is best for you comes first.
Your choices were stripped from you when you were sexually assaulted. Setting your boundaries is a chance to make choices about what you want and don’t want. It gives you a chance to do what you feel is best for you. There is nothing wrong in putting you first, your abuser put his needs above yours, your family and friends, in certain instances, put their needs above yours. It is your turn to decide what you want. You have nothing to feel guilty about. We are made to feel guilty for a crime committed against us. I am telling you that you were never guilty and have nothing to be ashamed about. As survivors of sexual assault building back our self-image and esteem takes time. Surround yourself with people who understand and are willing to help you on your journey. Distance yourself from those who blame you or try to silence you.
Sexual assault is not the survivors’fault. I will keep repeating that no one asks to be sexually assaulted. St.Lucia doesn’t offer us many options for support. But we are here to help and listen. Feel free to contact us via phone or email if you want to talk. WE need to make the changes; we need to start to change. For those who have survived and are willing to speak to us and share your stories; feel free to call or email. We want to help, we want to create change. We want to create the supportive environment that is so desperately needed in St.Lucia. The time has come to speak out. You did nothing wrong and have nothing to be ashamed of. Know that you are not alone. Let’s raise our voices and demand what we need regarding how sexual assault is dealt with in St.Lucia.
Remember that Sexual assault is something that happened to you, it does not define you. 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. You are a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman/man who has suffered a trauma through no fault of your own 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.
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
Twitter: @PROSAF_SUEEZZY: https://twitter.com/PROSAF_Sueezzy
Webpage: http://www.prosaf.net (UP & RUNNING)
Telephone: 1-758-724-9991(sue) 1-758-723-6466(vel)