How can she still be complaining about this? Why hasn’t she moved on? He didn’t really hurt her. Are you sure you didn’t misunderstand what happened? It can’t be sexual assault if it was your husband/wife. Too often these phrases are uttered to survivors of sexual violence, making them question what they went through and where they are in their healing journey. Do we need to see a physical scar to believe that one suffered and is still suffering? Will the visible physical scar give them permission to be angry, depressed, resentful, hurt? We treat sexual assault and the victims/survivors like they are only allowed to react past the point of the assault if we can see the scars, if we have a reason to pity them. The absence of a scar means that you should be over it, that you should move on, that it should no longer be affecting you. Our society doesn’t allow survivors of sexual violence to be in pain, it doesn’t give them time to heal. It is easier to accept that one would still be hurting if we can see something left behind after the attack, otherwise one is expected to put it behind them, forgive, move on. We fail to connect with the pain of the individual who has been assaulted because we don’t understand, because we don’t try to understand. There is a lack of education on the issues that arise out of sexual violence, which leads to a great lack in sensitivity. Many survivors absorb what is told to them making their healing and their pain greater. They are made to feel weak if they are still suffering, if the arbitrary time frame society places on recovery from sexual assault has passed.
We are not privy to a survivor’s pain behind closed doors, behind the mask that has so carefully been constructed to hide the pain they are still dealing with. We are not aware of the psychological pain that continuously plagues them. Survivors of sexual violence are left with deep wounds that sometimes never heal. The invisible scars; the innocent touch that brings back a flood of terrifying memories, the movies that you can’t sit through because of the images that flash before your eyes. The silent guilt, shame and fear that one feels after being sexually assaulted, the feelings of isolation because no one will understand what you have been through and what you continue to go through, the lack of self-worth and self-love. The constant fear that one will fall victim to the crime of sexual violence again are all invisible scars that were left behind from being sexually violated that the public never sees. It is easier for us to ignore when we can’t see the scars but know that the scars are there nonetheless. Know that any survivor of sexual violence has scars and wounds that you will never see, but know those scars, in most cases take the longest to heal. Know those are the wounds that cause constant pain that no band-aid will fix. Our society doesn’t provide many avenues for healing but as individuals we should do our part to help survivors. Know that 1 in 6 females (American statistics) is sexually assaulted and one 1 in 33males (American statistics).(Rainn.org). Those statistics are in my opinion, still grossly understated. I mention these numbers to let you know that more than likely you know more than one survivor of sexual assault who is afraid to speak up. Your actions have a lasting impact on your friend’s recovery. Let us begin to create a more supportive environment for survivors of sexual violence. I implore you to stop blaming them for crimes that were committed against their will. Do your part to help bring perpetrators of this crime to justice. It is your business if you know someone is being sexually violated. DO SOMETHING. IGNORANCE ISN’T BLISS. Sexual Violence seems to be one of the few crimes where we blame the survivor and then force them to get over being violated.
We at PROSAF are always here to listen and support you. Feel free to contact us via the information belowRemember 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. We are available for group and individual counseling.
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence