7 things all sexual assault survivors need to know
First off, if you are a survivor reading this, I’m so sorry that this happened to you. It takes strength to even search the internet for support and information. So take a minute to celebrate yourself for taking this step. Watch this cat video and have a laugh.
Did that? Okay good, now here are some things you need to know:
1) It’s not your fault
No matter what you were wearing, how much you drank, your relationship with the perpetrator, where you were, YOU WERE NOT ASKING FOR IT. We can’t stress that enough. Rape is the result of systems of oppression and the desire to humiliate, demean, or control. It speaks more about the perpetrator and the society we live in than it does about you. Remember, even if you could go back and take every possible precaution to prevent this from happening to you, all you’re really doing is making sure the perpetrator violates someone else.
2) You’re not alone
Literally, millions of people in this country have been sexually assaulted, across all classes, races, and genders. According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 11 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. And that’s just the number reported: it’s estimated that only 1 in 3 cases are reported to police.
3) Life doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle
It might not always feel like it, but you can get through this–all the shame and pain you might be feeling. Maybe you’re not religious or spiritual, but I for one genuinely believe that this wouldn’t have happened to you if you couldn’t work through it and be stronger for it. According to Epicetus, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react that matters.” You have a choice: you can let your experiences continue to control your life and actions, or you can learn from the pain and struggle and use it to raise yourself even higher than where you were before.
4) There are so many resources out there
With that said, rising above your assault might be difficult to take on alone. We are fortunate to live in the modern age, where you can find information for everything on the internet. You just have to find what helps you. Maybe it’s therapy or a regular yoga practice or focusing on your physical health. Most likely, what helps you rise above will be a combination of a million small things. Each small step is one in the right direction.
If you need help getting started, consider calling RAINN’s national sexual assault support hotline. After calling 800-656-HOPE (4673), they’ll direct you to your local crisis center whose staff and volunteers are available 24/7 to listen and provide support.
5) Your past doesn’t have to control you
If you’re like me, you might find yourself comparing this new, traumatized you to your former self. “I’m not as motivated as I used to be.” “I can’t handle so much structure.” “I’m not social or outgoing anymore.” When you constantly replay these thoughts and phrases, you knock your self esteem down another notch. People say that you shouldn’t compare yourselves to others, which is a good rule, but especially important here is not to compare to your “other” self. Experiences change you, and that’s okay. Likely, the other side of this pain will bring a much stronger and authentic version of yourself. When you have the strength, fight back against this victim mentality; your negative experiences don’t have to hold themselves over you.
6) You’re strong AF
Strength is resourcefulness in times when you seemingly have no resources. And you’re here. Again, that’s a such a strong sign, and I promise that you that you can overcome whatever challenges come your way. The worst has likely already happened, and you lived to tell the tale. That’s amazing, and we are so proud of you.
7) We’re here for you
Sometimes it’s hard to turn to your friends and family for support. Or even if you do, maybe it doesn’t feel quite right. That’s why we created Survivor Alliance, to build a meaningful support network. A whole community of survivors stand alongside you, ready to lift you up when needed.
We have so much planned for the coming months, from mini-courses and social media challenges, to valuable content created by survivors, to live events for connecting with members of your community. Join our email list to stay updated and get involved! If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can also join our Meetup group.