This week has been hard for me, a survivor of sexual assault. I wrote a book which includes the experience I had and a bunch of other things I’ve survived from. I firmly believe that going to therapy and treating the PTSD that I developed with EMDR saved my life. I also believe the support of friends and family and at the time especially my boyfriend (now husband) saved me.
This week has seen a 221% spike in calls to the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) on the day of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. I am not here to be political. Nope. What I am going to say is that a survivor should be listened to and heard and believed. That’s it. I tried to tell while hospitalized in 1986 (I think that was the year) and nobody heard me. It was turned around and I stopped trying to tell anyone til I was 18 yrs old. When I was 18, I had already quit high school and was at the local community college finishing up my Associates degree (I had gone to college at 16) and I told one of my classmates- this guy I had a crush on. That did not go well. It went well in the sense that this guy listened, heard and believed me but when he realized that I told him because I was a young girl and he was 27- he removed himself from the situation because prior to that he had no idea how old I was and didn’t want to damage me even more. Thank you Steve, I will never forget your kindness.
You are not alone. No matter when you were assaulted, who assaulted you, how severe the assault was (how is that even a thing? if you were assaulted you were assaulted and it was wrong and it was severe to you) I believe you. I hear you and you are NOT alone.
Life is very hard. I have chosen to turn the bad into good and I wrote a book. I believe firmly that anyone can Continue to Live and Flourish despite anything bad that has happened to you. I believe that if you heal thru therapy and continue to give yourself the space you need to feel safe that you can do anything in life you choose to do.
I could relate to Dr. Ford when she said she was afraid at times and was claustrophobic. I can’t close the bathroom door when I use the restroom. I can if people are over but my kids are over the fact that if they find me- the door will be open- they just avoid eye contact. Our master bath has this weird door to a shower/toilet “room” and I took the door off the hinges. That means our “bathroom” in our master has no door. I can’t wait to renovate it this coming Spring 2019 so we can finally have some privacy but there will be no door to a tight space. There will be a door to an open and spacious bathroom. See I can close doors to open spaces/larger spaces but I have a hard time closing a door to a small half bath type room. I get it.
Every survivor needs to be heard but what I want to do is change the conversation and ensure that my sons and my daughter both know about consent and it’s not very hard to teach actually. When my youngest was 9 years old we found this great video about consent from the UK. The video compares a cup of tea with sex. It is animated and easy for kids and adults of all ages to understand. You can never force anyone to have a cup of tea and thus cannot force them to have sex. It goes on to several scenarios. It’s really awesome. So this week when my son (age 12) asked me about what was on the news he said to me “Mom did that man not see the tea video?” I laughed and told him that when I grew up the internet and videos like this were not available to people. “Well at least it’s available now and nobody should not know about consent if they watch it!” That’s the thing folks, we need to teach our children.
My 13 1/2 year old daughter knows self defense from Karate. She knows that you don’t go anywhere without a friend even to the bathroom if you are at an event and that you should not go to an event if there are no parents home. Does this mean she will not do any of the above no. Do my sons know the same thing, yes. Do my sons know to respect others and their space? Yes. The other thing kids need to learn about is drinking and to try it at home first. I’m not suggesting we line up our teens and give them a beer but if we make our dining room tables the places to talk about life and their friends and what is really going on and you find out they are aware of friends that drink then your kid should sit down at the table (if you feel ok with this) and try alcohol. I know my parents let me and it made me realize after the 3rd wine cooler at age 16 that alcohol was not for me. I couldn’t walk straight, I couldn’t make proper decisions. It held me off from drinking too much my entire life. Obviously do what you feel is best as a parent and certainly do not offer alcohol to anyone else’s kids but kids need to understand what it does to their judgement and you do not want them to find out at the first party they attend.
Our society needs to go back in time and have manners. Our men need to ask our women permission to hold their hand and to ask to kiss them and vice versa. Our kids need to understand that love is love and love feels good. Domestic abuse occurs within teen age relationships and that is not ok. I am probably hyper focused on the teenage aspect of things because I have 3 of them in my house, right now. I worry. But I know no matter what they will be ok.
If you are a survivor and you need help this week, call the RAINN hotline . They can help you. Back in 1999- I called, several years after the assault and got a referral to a local support group. Through that group I found my therapist and I saw her thru 2001 and it was an amazing experience, albeit hard. I healed and began the journey to Continue to Live and Flourish despite it all and I have.