There is pressure to heal from sexual violence not to long after the crime has been committed. The pressure comes from all avenues; your family, society, your friends and from you. You want it to be over and want to be over it, many times convincing yourself that you are better, whole, healed, a survivor. But the truth is, survivors of sexual violence very often carry their secrets with them for a lifetime, they carry the pain of what they went through for a long time. Too often they have tried, at one point or another to seek support, to begin their healing by sharing their stories whether they come right out and admit that the story they are sharing is their own, or whether they say it is a friend’s story, they try. Too often the responses they get either blame them out right, or preach about how you, their friends and family would not have fallen victim to the crime of sexual violence. We speak about the crime of sexual violence like the victim/survivor was given the chance to accept or turn down the assault. They were not consulted, they were assaulted against their will, through no fault of their own. The responses survivors get send out the message that 1) they can’t and won’t get support from you, 2) that they somehow did something to bring this on themselves and 3) they should be over it by now. We instill over and over a sense of isolation and shame in survivors of sexual assault, so much so, that many never try seeking help or support ever again.
As survivors many times we accept, (and I use this word very lightly), that we were sexually assaulted and that there is nothing that can be done. You don’t deserve a life of continuous trauma, pain and suffering. Sexual violence was an act committed against you, but it doesn’t have to define your path in life, it doesn’t have to prevent you from finding happiness, from finding yourself. It is never too late to begin healing, you are never too old for things to change, for them to get better and for the crime that happened to you to take up less space in your life. I will never promise that it will be easy, or that it will happen over night. It will be tough, and yes you have been through so much already, and I understand not wanting to go through it all again. But this time you are not alone, this time you have support. There is always hope, there is always room for a better life. I know many of you have resigned yourselves to living your lives as is. We both know that the memories, flashbacks, triggers and nightmares have not disappeared and aren’t likely to unless you begin to heal. Some of us are able to keep them at bay for a while but they always resurface, the only way forward is to face them and begin healing. I know what I’m saying here is hard to accept, I’m still working at healing myself. Healing takes time. There is no time frame on when you should start, on how far along you should be. You get to decide how you heal, when you start, when you pause.
PROSAF wants you to know you are not alone, you have PROSAF, and other survivors who are also on their journey who understand what you’re going through and will be there to validate and support you. Don’t accept that things won’t get better. There is no specific time in which you should have addressed your assault, it is never too late and you are never too old or young to begin the healing journey. Healing is on your terms, you are in charge of how far you go, when you go there, how much you share, who you share with, who you let in. This is your healing journey from a crime that was committed against you, that has forever altered your life. Take your time, pace yourself, you are doing your best.
We at PROSAF, are always here to listen and support you. Feel free to contact us via the information below. Remember you are not alone. You are strong & brave. You will get through your healing process but it takes time and patience. We are here to help and listen. Feel free to contact us if you ever need a place to offload or vent.
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence & Rebecca Hayes