“Because many women and men do not report sexual violence because they are ashamed or fear being blamed, not believed or otherwise mistreated. Because survivors and their loved ones need to know that there are others out there who believe them. Because the silence has to stop.” -Honey.org
You know what is scary? Talking about uncomfortable things. But something I’ve learned about discussing those topics is that you can help others in doing so. I can’t tell you how many times in my own life I struggled with one thing or another and just wished I had someone else to connect with or talk to about it. Suffering alone in my opinion is one of the most agonizing experiences a human can have. I remember at one specific low in my life I sat on my bedroom floor, looking at myself in my mirror and just crying because I felt so forsaken. I felt that what I was going through I could not tell anyone about, and even then, would they understand? I thought about so many others in the world going through what I was, or worse. It scared me. I didn’t want anyone to feel this way. I made a promise to myself that in my life I would do all I could to lift others up. That I would speak out even when it became difficult so that others wouldn’t feel alone. Usually I feel comfortable sharing my experiences in order to help others, but even as I prepare to type this post I feel anxious. But that’s exactly why I want to talk about this, because I am tired of this fear, and I don’t want anyone else to feel ashamed, afraid or alone.
So, what’s my secret? What is it that I am so afraid to talk about? That thing is sexual assault.
By the time I turned 21 I had been sexually assaulted by 8 different men, one of which who raped me. These men were boyfriends, others close friends. They were men I knew, I was close to and least expected it from. I heard things from them such as “I can’t control it” or “You want this” despite my pleading to stop, my tears alone should have been enough. I felt ashamed. I blamed myself. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I feared judgment or worse, that they wouldn’t believe me. I began to believe that all I was good for was the physical things I had to offer. I pushed these traumatic experiences down, tried to pretend they didn’t happen so that I could function and forget. But you can’t. And this is a huge reason I am opening up to you. Please, speak up and get help. Please speak up so that others can understand the severity of these situations. As I type, something in me says “Stop! People don’t want to hear this. Be quiet!” and maybe that’s true to some, but I can’t go another day without standing up against something that needs to end. We need to open a dialogue about this. We need to stand up and say THIS IS NOT RIGHT. These things can not change if we don’t push harder to change them. I no longer want to contribute to the silence.
It does not matter what you were wearing. It does not matter if you were kissing the person. It does not matter. No means no. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
I am now 23 years old, and wish I would not have been embarrassed to tell someone about these things. I wish I had known I was worth more than being with someone who abused me, and believe me, you are worth more. I still struggle with flashbacks, post traumatic stress and anxiety. Intimacy often scares me. Many of my close friends still don’t know this about me. It took me over a year to tell my own parents. All because I was afraid. Believing you need to keep something like sexual abuse to yourself needs to stop. Because every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted, contributing to nearly 293,000 victims each year. 68% of these assaults are not reported to police, and 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison. These are such alarming numbers, and I can’t help but wonder how many people do I know might be part of these statistics? How many of them could I have helped feel less alone by just being open about my own struggles with sexual assault? So here is where I end my silence. Some days are harder than others, but every day is an opportunity to get better. Being able to put energy into things I am passionate about such as blogging and creating things help me to build new confidence and gain greater joy. Serving others helps me to forget about my own struggles and to put others first. However, it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes too. I am always happy and available to talk to anyone who needs to talk.
Here are a few helpful websites to visit: