What I’ve learned from surviving sexual assault
If you’re reading this, chances are you, or someone you know, have survived it too. And so, before I begin, I have two things I would like to say.
1) I’m sorry.
It shouldn’t have happened to you. You didn’t deserve it. There are not many things I’m sure of in life but that is 100% one of them.
2) Thank you.
Thank you for choosing to keep going despite the battles you face on a daily basis.
Thank you for not allowing something that could very easily define you, become all that you are.
Thank you for not taking the world down in a rage no one would blame you for. Thank you for instead choosing yourself and other survivors by healing, nurturing, and acknowledging your battle.
And most importantly, thank you for not letting your abuser win. The fact you are here, still living boldy and beautifully, despite it not always feeling like it, means you’ve won.
And like with any battle won, there are lessons you learn.
Lessons that in no way undermine, or undervalue your battle. Gosh no. These are lessons that prove you were born ready for battle and that those who dared engage you in said battle were doomed from the start.
These are lessons that should be passed on, talked about, celebrated even. For these are your battle scars. Beautiful, zig-zagging signs of strength.
These are the lessons I have learned from being a survivor of four years. No matter the stage you are in your survival journey, I hope they help.
Here are our lessons for passing on, talking about, and celebrating.
You’ve won darling.
1) You will have a love-hate relationship with numbness. Sometimes you will crave it with your entire being, sometimes you will give anything to feel again. Just know that you will feel again one day and when you do, it swaddles you like a hug from your nan. Safely, wonderfully.
2) You will hate men for a while. And that is your right.
3) You will crave men for a while. And that is your right too.
4) You will want to give up on the male population entirely. But you won’t because you will find men that think of you, and all you stand for, just as highly. It’s okay if this takes time and it’s okay if you want nothing to do with them until then.
5) You will feel shame like you’ve never felt before. That’s your right too but not your burden. You have nothing to feel shame for and one day that shame will turn to empowerment. That I promise you.
6) You will feel guilt as if you should be locked up and the key tossed. Again, this is your right but in no way your truth. Guilt, alongside shame, couldn’t be further from your truth. You are the innocent and innocence always prevails. The universe has got you.
7) You will gain a deep love for other women. Even those who, thank goodness, don’t understand. This again may take time. It is hard to feel empowered when you feel like you as you knew it, no longer exists. But it will happen and your uprising will be something to behold.
8) There are many ways to heal and all of them are right if they work for you. That said, all the ways you heal may not always be healthy. But there are no rules to this, only lessons and you will learn your own.
9) Despite what you may believe, you are not alone. It is the beautiful and twisted irony of survival. You do not wish to be alone, yet you do not wish for others to endure what you have. Unfortunately, many have. Fortunately, they are winning just like you and are here to pass on, talk about and celebrate lessons with.
10)Reporting the abuse is not your duty. Each battle is individual and is won by you and you alone. If to you, that is through the justice system, there are so many of us that can help. If for you, it is being at peace by yourself, there are so many of us that can help with that too.
11)Feminism isn’t scary. It’s exciting and deep-rooted. Empowering and raw. It’s honest and well, maybe a little scary but only in the very best way. Like when you get on a plane for the first time, or ride a rollercoaster. Enjoy this part of your battle and embrace it. It’s part of your ammunition.
12)Healing will take time and a compass. You may be fine for years and something will trigger you. You may struggle every day. You may feel like you’re making progress one day and back to square one the next. But guess what? You’re here. You’ve already won. To keep winning, keep defying everything your abuser is and live boldly. Beautifully. And one day, I hope, without fear.
13)Sex will take time and a compass too. It may be all you want. You may not want it at all. You may have to takes things slowly. You may not. You may want to be explorative with your sex life. You may not. Part of you winning is that you are in control of how you sex. Be that regularly, be that never. Be that with one person. Be that with a hundred people. Be with that with toys. Be that by candlelight. It’s your sex, your way.
14)STD’s may become a major cause for anxiety. That’s normal but not fair. You deserve a positive sex life. So speak to your girlfriends, partner, therapist, doctor, us. It’s a cruel side-effect and one you shouldn’t allow yourself to endure for long.
15)Talking about your battle is optional and again not your duty. You may want to publicise your experience to try and help others, or for your own catharsis. You may want to never speak of it again. All that matters is that you are dealing with it in your own way. Whether that’s making it your loudest battle cry or your silent but unbreakable armor. Just know, there is always someone to listen. You are not alone.
16)Your battle is not with the abuser. It never was. There will be times when you’ll want to fight them to the death, prove you’re fine to them, expose them, block them, run away from them. All of the above is your right to feel so long as you remember it was never about them. They don’t deserve that. It’s about you. Your life. Your sex. Your journey. Your way.
17)You couldn’t have changed what happened. Stop thinking you could and certainly stop blaming yourself.
18)People will believe you. I swear it.
19)People will understand. I know it.
20)You won’t always feel like a winner, but you are. You have already won. Each day you live boldly and beautifully you are winning.
You’ve won darling.
I hope these lessons are helpful. It helped me to write them. Sometimes you don’t realise the lessons you’ve learned until you do.
Do you have any battle lessons for us? We’d love to hear them!
Stay safe, stay bold. Stay you xo