Your head may be spinning right now with excuses and explanations and how “it can’t really be sexual assault because…” or “it’s really not a big deal…”. I understand that. But I also am beginning to understand that statements such as those are not true. It’s been months but I’m coming to acknowledge the fact that yeah, if it seems like sexual assault, it was. There are no perfect cookie cutter experiences, and yours is all kinds of valid. It doesn’t matter if you’re dating, if you’d done it before, if you didn’t explicitly say “no”, or if you were under the influence.
It’s also important to note that both perpetrators and survivors can be of any demographic and can be of any relation to each other. It doesn’t matter their gender or race or whether you’re family or friends or what. None of that matters.
When you are confronted by issues such as these that leave you questioning who you are and whether or not you’re “allowed” to feel upset, talk to someone who will validate you. As Danielle Bernock says in her novel Emerging with Wings: A True Story of Lies, Pain, and the Love that Heals, “Trauma is personal. It does not go away if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams, healing can begin.” I cannot emphasize the importance enough of talking to someone who will tell you that yes, you were sexually assaulted and no, that’s not okay, regardless. This may include the gender violence services coordinator or counselor at your school or your best friends or your parents. Sometimes you may think it includes a certain person but be heartbroken when you realize it’s not. He or she may have to be the person you go to about everything but this. And that’s okay.
It’s also crucial to learn how to validate yourself, no matter what anybody says. Look at the facts, don’t make excuses, and listen to your heart and how you feel. Remember to breathe, remember your emotions are valid because you feel them, remember that you are worthy and beautiful and not to blame, and that everything will be okay.
Realize that denial is normal but also something to be worked through. It may not be easy -- it may hit you like a ton of bricks, each one etched with the word assault that leave an imprint on your skull. Go forward anyway. Realize that, biologically, it’s natural for your brain to register a trauma after a considerable amount of time. And maybe it’ll take a considerable amount of time to be well again. But things will get better, I promise you.
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