“A Survivor’s Explanation”

I just wanted to use this post to share a note that was written by a friend of mine on facebook. I already respected her a lot, not only for being a pretty awesome person with really neat tattoos, but also an amazing photographer whom I’m so excited to work with in 2013. Now, that respect has escalated to an entirely new level.  Please, take the time to read it, and help spread some awareness about sexual abuse.

 

Here is the link to her facebook post, and I’ve copied and pasted it into this blog entry just as an extra precaution!

A Survivor’s Explanation

(Everything after this is all of her words and photos)

“When first writing this, I toyed with the idea of putting a disclaimer for anyone uncomfortable with the topic of sexual abuse. After thinking about it more, I reminded myself that I’m writing this to spread awareness, especially to those wonderfully oblivious.

    If this topic was talked about more then maybe it wouldn’t be so common, maybe it wouldn’t be so hushed up and maybe victim blaming wouldn’t exist. For anyone shying away from reading the rest of this, please hear me out and read what I have to say. I know your views may not be changed, but I hope to give you something to think about.

Seven months ago, I called for numbers to therapists.

Six months ago, I had my first therapy session.

Five months ago, I was clinically diagnosed with PTSD due to being sexually abused as a child.

It’s been seven months since I started my way to healing, and being the woman who types this today.

I wasn’t sure if I would explain, or even post about this tattoo, since I was worried about reactions. I had gone back and forth, but one thought finally made the decision for me: I will no longer be ashamed. The shame of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and rape does not belong to the survivor — It belongs to the abuser. Because I know this, I will no longer be quiet about my survival. I’m proud of what I’ve endured, and proud that I’m not strong enough to reach out to others and talk.

A few weeks ago, I found myself having a conversation with a friend, who has a similar past. She brought up one point that really stuck with me. After coming to agreement that it’s sad and disgusting how often this happens, and how easily it can be swept under the rug, this friend of mine said that following –

“Think how much that could change if children were told, ‘Not only are strangers the ones to look out for, but anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.’ That even someone who is supposed to love and care for you, who should protect you from those harmful strangers, can be selfish and may not make you feel comfortable.”

As a child who was always taught, “Don’t talk to strangers, you can’t trust them,” I was amazed to hear the truth in her statement. I don’t blame any of my family or friends for not knowing when the abuse was happening. Therapy has taught me plenty, but especially that abusers are sneaky, selfish and manipulative. Like I said, they are the ones who deserve the blame.

And let’s be honest, no one wants to believe that a spouse, step-parent, aunt, uncle, cousin or anyone who is close to them would ever harm a child. As my mom put it, “When you find out, it’s like you’re in shock. This kind of thing happens on TV, and you’ve read about it happening to other people. But in your own life? You never thought it would be so close, so personal.”

It happens more often than you’d think though.

93% of child victims knew their abuser. Think about that.

While you’re pondering this number, I’ll throw out another statistic for you:

According to R.A.I.N.N, 1 in 4 girls will be sexually assaulted or abused by the time they are 18 years old.

I refuse to just be a statistic though.

I am also a daughter, sister and relative.

I am a friend, acquaintance, student and photographer.

I am a woman, a human being.

And I am possibly the first 1 out of 4 girls that you can now put a face to personally.

I decided to speak out because there are far too many women and men who remain silent. I don’t say this to insult fellow survivors, but because I feel I would be doing them an injustice by not talking. There is a stereotype of the broken human who has been abused, and therefore should be pitied. By speaking out, I hope to break that stereotype, break the norm and show that not only have I survived, I have thrived. Survivors are not to be pitied for their past, but respected for enduring and coming out stronger.

To all other survivors, this is meant for you. I spent five years believing this was something to be ashamed of. Something that was my fault. It took me five years, after my abuser’s conviction, to realize I needed help. Therapy is not for everyone, and results won’t happen overnight. It is a long and tough road of healing, but I promise you — It’s worth it.

As a fellow survivor, if you don’t take anything away from this but a couple sentences, then please let it be this:

You are never alone in how you feel, it takes time to heal and though your past is part of you, it willnever define you.

Now that you’ve read this, and have some food for thought, I would like to ask a favor.

For me. For other survivors. For the men, women and children still scared or ashamed to speak to anyone about what has happened

Tell a friend. Tell a relative. Mention it on a social website you use. Share this story. Share your own stories!

How many others are on your friends list that you aren’t aware were abused?

Put a message of support out there for them. Let the survivors know they are loved and blameless for what happened.

I know this may only reach my friends that are interested in my tattoos, and were wondering about the meaning. However, I’m crossing my fingers that it may reach a little farther, and mean a little more, to a few people. I hope at some point in time, anyone who was once a victim can feel the sense of empowerment that I have now. That they, like me, can feel the strength and empowerment that stems from knowing that your abuse wasn’t your fault, and will never define you.

If you ever need someone to talk to, don’t hesistate to call your local rape/crisis hotline, get some numbers for therapy or confide in a friend. If you find you don’t have someone you feel comfortable talking to, please don’t think twice about messaging me.

This is also my Harry Potter tattoo. In an interview, J.K. Rowling explained what the last words in the series meant. She said, “I wanted to be clear that it was over. Done. Harry had conquered Voldemort. The scar, although it’s still there, is now just a scar. Nothing more.”

This series saved me in multiple ways over the years, and I can’t help but feel that my “scar”, although still there, is now just a scar too.

My wonderful boyfriend, Erik, decided to get a protector’s mark. “As Protectors, we can never know what you went through. We can imagine, and we can sympathize, but it would be an imperfect imagining, second-hand sympathy. The only way for anyone to absolutely know is for them to have gone through it themselves. The only thing we as Protectors can do is avoid pity and apathy and offer respect and compassion; be there when you need us, and absent when you don’t; spread awareness that the greatest power is in the Survivor, not the Victimizer and that the Survivor has not been defeated; and do our best to ensure that this never happens again.”

Sources/Contacts:

*The Original Survivor’s Mark Page*

http://www.facebook.com/TheSurvivorsMark

R.A.I.N.N

http://www.Rainn.org

 

 

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