An Open Letter To All Survivors Of Sexual Assault

Dear Survivor,

Please believe me when I say how sorry I am that you have experienced this vile and violent act.

I believe you when you say you have been harmed and that you are struggling to come to terms with this and find yourself unable to put into words what you are feeling.

It is an understatement to say you have faced injustice and now you have to go through the process of heartbreak and grief and then the added trauma of do you feel safe to even speak to someone, to ask for help, wondering if you will be believed, will they look into all aspects of your life and judge you.

Sadly, too often it is common for survivors to experience judgment and disbelief from those closest which causes just as much, if not more pain than the actual assault itself.

You, like many of us, maybe experiencing a severe case of the “if only’s.” “If only I hadn’t trusted this person,” “If only I had screamed,” “If only I hadn’t gone up to their room,” “If only I hadn’t gone to that party,” if only, if only….

It is normal to pose those thoughts to ourselves; it adds to the trauma we are already experiencing as we have it taught to us from a young age that we are responsible for our behavior and actions, but that doesn’t mean we are responsible of the acts of others upon us.

Let us be clear here, you didn’t allow yourself or cause yourself to be assaulted, that vile act was put upon you, and you did whatever you could to survive, and I for one am cheering you on for your incredible bravery, so please give yourself credit for making the decision to survive.

You may be finding yourself having trouble to remember how the attack started, what you were doing, where you were, this is because your brain had gone into what is known as ‘survival mode’ your brain as the assault takes place was firing off neurotransmitters to protect you as the emotions you were experiencing were unnerving.

For some survivors, their bodies freeze during the attack for others they fight back.  There is no right or wrong way to respond to the assault, and you need to keep that thought in your mind, you have done nothing wrong, you did everything right to survive.

You are no doubt feeling guilty, you must have done something to provoke them, No!

YOU DID NOTHING WRONG!

We live in a rape culture that has the attitude even now that we as survivors did something wrong and that is why this person chose to violate us, totally wrong and I promise you that you did nothing wrong.

 

You didn’t deserve to be assaulted, abused, coerced, harassed, or harmed in any way.

None of this is your fault.

Let me say that again- None of this is your fault.

Someone decided to harm you, that decision is firmly on them not you, this is not your shame to carry.

Sexual assault is a traumatic event, the impact on ourselves is not only physical it is emotional and psychological. We all react differently and we all heal differently too, there is no time limit to healing and it takes time to process all the pain and to assimilate the experience into our lives.

There will be days when you feel so angry that the rage inside you even frightens you, use that rage to work through your trauma. You will have moments of numbness, grief, heartache and an agony that you can’t seem to process, then depression hits you, but let me tell you all those emotions and feelings are a positive sign, it is showing you that you are processing your survivorship, this is the only way through it, but know you got this and you can get through it.

None of us deserved the assault, but we do deserve to feel safe and experience good things in our lives, the main one being justice for what happened to us. For some of us justice never comes, for others justice does come, but what we deserve the most is to be listened to, believed and allowed to heal.

Your journey of healing will take time, just know every step you take is a success no matter how small that step it.

Getting out of bed – Success

Taking a shower – Success

Eating a dinner – Success

Making a phone call – Success

Taking that first walk alone – HUGE Success

Every single step you take matters!

There will be days when you revert into yourself and have a PJ day, not wanting to speak to anyone, leave the house, please know this is okay.

You are incredible!

You, like many of us, are wondering if you are ever going to get through this, the answer is, Yes, you will in your own time, it is your courage that will get you through this and that is what makes you the amazing survivor that you are.