Content Warning(s): Rape, Therapist Who Clearly Wasn't Briefed
Day sixteen! April is Sexual Assault Survivor Month! This post will contain sensitive material; please exercise caution if you see a topic that could be upsetting to you. A final caveat: these are written from my limited perspective as a bi woman who was raped. I don't have all the answers and I'm still working through my own journey. There are many other kinds of sexual assault and abuse that are relevant this month. Take time to consider the needs of your diverse fellow survivors. Speak up for them when they can't speak up for themselves, but don't speak over them. Thank you!
Today is dedicated to personal gratitude. When I first started realizing that what had happened to me was neither my fault nor something I could "get over," I stayed quiet. I googled covertly to see if anyone had had an experience similar to mine. I looked for free online "talk therapy" chats; when I finally found one that seemed okay and unloaded my experience, it was clear the person on the other end was not only much younger than myself, but had no support or advice to give other than a vague, "I'm sorry" and a recommendation that I post about it on, of all places, Reddit. I kept quiet. My symptoms grew worse and the nightmares were unending. I told my mother first, in euphemism then in exact language. I told the first therapist, who wasn't informed before I went to my first appointment, and who not only asked for very specific details, but concluded that there was "nothing" I could do and suggested "voodoo" to exorcise him from my body.
I started to tell people in my real life but it wasn't until I shared my story with my Facebook friends that I started to see more people who'd been through something like what I had. I got sweet and understanding comments, empathy, and messages from friends who reached out just to say, "It happened to me, too." Once I realized I wasn't alone, I began to think about why so many people were survivors and I'd had no idea. I began to rewatch documentaries and read articles about sexual assault, treading carefully where stories hit too close to home. I wasn't alone, but I didn't realize it until almost a year after the rape had happened because so many didn't feel they could speak up or speak out. I knew I needed to keep speaking out about what happened to me (in ways that didn't re-traumatize, which is still difficult). CSSN is just one way I'm fighting back, but I try to see how rape culture affects my daily life and intervene when someone who may be ignorant to what it's like says something insensitive.
I couldn't have done it without each and every person who confided in me. Thank you all for reminding me that I'm not alone, that we're not alone, and that we're stronger together.
Thanks for reading! Tomorrow's topic will be about military rape.
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