Being a survivor of sexual assault leaves an individual with many scars, there are constant reminders of what one went through. Sexual assault affects the victim/survivor in many ways, physically, psychologically and emotionally. Many survivors/victims don’t realize how deeply they have been affected until in some cases, it is too late. Being sexually assaulted affects how the individual understands themselves, how they treat themselves and how much love, respect, self-care is dedicated to themselves. There is a break in reality and in how they view everything. Many look in the mirror and can’t marry the image of who they see, how they feel and who they used to be. Many mourn the loss of what and who they could have been. Sexual assault leaves many survivors feeling separated from everyone, unsure of who they are and how they should proceed. Many, who have been sexually assaulted, will say that they picked up and did what they had to, to move on. They convince themselves that they have dealt with what was done to them.
Sitting and reflecting on one’s life will show that you have been more affected that you are willing to admit. Survivors of sexual assault are more inclined to be depressed, to suffer from addiction issues, to suffer with eating disorders, to have intimacy issues, to have self-esteem issues, to be insomniacs, to have control and trust issues, to build up walls that they hope will keep them safe and secure. Many survivors/victims find it difficult to forge lasting relationships. Many have a deep hatred of themselves making it difficult for them to see the good within. The pain that many survivors of sexual assault live with is often, deeply entrenched.
When does it get better and what can we do? I’m sure many ask themselves this on a daily basis. It takes time and work. You probably want it all to go away, or to get better quickly. The road to healing is never easy. You have to face some harsh realities about life, your family, your friends, those you love and trust. It means setting difficult boundaries, but necessary boundaries. The importance of setting boundaries helps you to take control and tell those around you what you are willing to accept and what you will not. As survivors you will find that you are eager to please and find it hard to disappoint; but doing what is best for you comes first. Your choices were stripped from you when you were sexually assaulted. Setting your boundaries is a chance to make choices about what you want and don’t want. It gives you a chance to do what you feel is best for you. There is nothing wrong in putting you first, your abuser put his/her needs above yours, your family and friends, in certain instances, put their needs above yours. It is your turn to decide what you want. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Survivors/victims are made to feel guilty for the crimes committed against them. I am telling you that you were never guilty and have nothing to be ashamed about. As survivors of sexual assault rebuilding your self-image and esteem takes time. Surround yourself with people who understand and are willing to help you on your journey. Distance yourself from those who blame you or try to silence you. Sexual assault is not the survivors’ fault. I will keep repeating that no one asks to be sexually assaulted. St.Lucia doesn’t offer us many options for support. But we are here to help and listen. Feel free to contact us via phone or email if you want to talk. WE need to make the changes; we need to start to change. For those who have survived and are willing to speak to us and share your stories; feel free to call or email. We want to help, we want to create change. We want to create the supportive environment that is so desperately needed in St.Lucia. You did nothing wrong and having nothing to be ashamed of. Know that you are not alone. Remember that Sexual assault is something that happened to you, it does not define you. You are a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman/child/man who has suffered a trauma through no fault of your own. You are not guilty of any crime, something was done to you against your will Sexual Assault is something that happened to you, it does not define you. You are worthy of love and happiness. Always remember that you are not alone, that you have nothing to be ashamed of. We are taking the baby steps necessary to make it better for all. KNOW YOU HAVE A SAFE SPACE IN PROSAF.
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence