Damaged - Rising from the Ashes
RISE FROM THE ASHES
“ The other question I get asked is, “What were you wearing?” I got raped at work and people still want to know what role I played in what happened to me.” Gabriella Union
How many times have women who have experienced sexual violence been asked this question?
Why didn’t you fight?
Why didn’t you say NO?
Why didn’t you push him away?
I did, but did that count?
Trying to justify and rationalize the act so you don’t see the look in survivors eyes, that's when it feels as though you stop being a person and become an object of pity. What a woman is wearing is not a justification for a man deciding to take what isn’t his. These reactions are not justified either.
Most of society views rape as a one time event. For many survivors the aftermath of sexual violence is the worst part, one that many women don’t share publicly. I didn’t share experience with sexual assault for a long time because I didn’t want the label. The look given to you after sharing your story: damaged, victim, guilt, fear and shame. I didn’t want to be seen as a person who lost a big part of her soul and her being. I wanted to be a fighter who is marching on and getting her life back on track as best as she can. But when I did share, the questioning and victim blaming is exactly what I was met with.
It ignited PTSD from the assault. My body was violated but my mind wouldn't let me heal or forget. Its like a constant replay in my head. Its every time I think about walking down that street that has more men than women, every time I want to get intimate with a man and something he does triggers a memory, or when I want to go out with friends...the fear inside me holds me down and makes me wonder who else will think I deserve it or asked for it? Which other monster out there will see me as the object of their get off instead of the woman that I am?
Often it isn’t the initial trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after. My family rarely, if ever, wants to talk about it. No one wants to admit the tears in my eyes from the nightmares or fears I have, they try to deal with it as quickly as possible and sweep it under the rug. So whom do I turn to? Where do I go?
But I am telling you as someone who has been through it all, someone who has tried to shut all the voices, thoughts and guilt permanently…
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. YOU ARE NOT DAMAGED.
Sometimes the strength within you is not a bright fiery flame for all to see, it is just a tiny spark that whispers ever so softly, you've got this. Keep going.
You have that flame in you too, you just have to see past the scars to the person deep within who is in control, and stronger than you can even imagine.
You are amazing, strong, brave and wonderful.
You are not alone.
I’m sorry if you ever felt that way, because you have a community here to support you now. I hope you will see that you aren’t what happened to you, but what you choose to become.
The titles that define me now aren’t the victim and damaged but survivor and queen. Find that flame and people will see it without you even speaking it, let that be your story.
Written by Noora Zein