The Sun Rises After it Falls
I shaved my legs to get boys to look at me in my skirts. I suppressed my experiences. I wore outfits in Teen Vogue magazine so I could be showered in compliments. I straightened my hair till I burned it all off to convince people I was worth saving. I avoided profanity and punishable thoughts to repair my wings after they’ve been clipped by my attackers. I have spent six years stumbling through the dark. I’ve avoided healing because I didn’t want to have to admit that I was too weak or too dumb to protect myself. Through this journey of confusion, I wished that I had support from someone that would be vulnerable and reveal to me their scars. Thank you to the lawyers, allies, advocates, families and friends, doctors, anyone who see us survivors and assist us in our healing. You fought for my existence and reminded me that I didn't die, that I am not a victim; I am a survivor.
I desire to be your light, I want to give you insight into what might be affecting you after being assaulted. It's been six years since I was stalked and attacked in my apartment. These past six years has been saturated in self awareness and eye opening insight. This is what's in my soul to share with you.
It isn’t your fault.
I misinterpreted this truth and I despised it. Not because it isn’t true, but because I didn’t understand why it's thee golden statement. I didn’t “make” someone hurt me. But, coexisting with this truth is shame for even having to witness abuse. Through experience we learn cause and effect; something has to happen to get a result. There’s so much we will never know about our assault because of our limited viewpoint. I craved to know what went wrong to avoid being hurt again. But, if all I know is my perspective, I am naturally going to analyze what I could’ve done to avoid the situation.
“My body did not make you a pervert, you did that all by yourself”- Tears I Cried til Midnight
It's a deeply rooted illness your attacker possesses to hurt you. Something as disturbing as perversion cannot develop in seconds of seeing you. Anytime someone has the audacity to deliberately hurt someone, it's a conscious decision they pursue that has nothing to do with you.
I was told to, "forget and don’t think about it. Why can’t you just move on? It happened, you can’t do anything about it.” I became ashamed of my "obsession" of the attack. So I gave myself two years to “get over it”. I avoided telling people in hopes that not revisiting the trauma will help me forget. I wanted to be joyful again and have the sun in my eyes. I didn't want to feel dead like I did when I avoided any sight of vulnerability and the truth about the attack. The memories will forever stay with us, and will affect our psych and body in various ways that cannot be forgotten. We can't "get over it", but we can come to peace with ourselves and the trauma.
Minutes after they attacked me I dissociated and the memories of what happened was locked away in my brain and that soon became a pattern. For months I would forget and then the memories will overwhelm me in seconds. After two years, I couldn't remember my trauma but I knew something heartbreaking happened. I would relive the attack every night in my night terrors and cognitive-behavior. I do believe that if I didn't suppress the memories and I made effort to process them, I wouldn't have had a warzone for a brain. Forgetting prevented me from processing the memories, forcing my brain to find ways to cope by itself through nightmares, flashbacks, mental illnesses, etc. I ran through instant gratifications, people, and addictions to soothe my anxiety, confusion, and insomnia. But truly what eases my pain are beautiful connections with the world and the people I love to remind me I am worthy to be alive.
Baby girl and baby boy, healing isn’t attractive, linear, or internally pleasing. It hurts. It’s terrifying. But, It's a form of self relationship. Social media illuminates the surface of self love: face masks, spa nights, painting our nails, retail therapy. Loving yourself is also kissing your scars. During the attack, I was the most vulnerable I could've been. My attackers personified my body for their desire to destroy the strength of a woman. Each time I talk, look in the mirror, or see myself in someone's eyes, I see myself underneath them. I hated who I became after. I feel damaged, tainted, unloveable. Majority of my self hatred was cultivated by the world's conception of virginity which has brainwashed us into believing sexual activity will taint our worth. Sex is a normal human affair for pleasure and conception. I wish I had someone to tell me that my worth is not held within my sexual experiences; negative or positive. Our worth is enriched from a connection to our uniqueness. Understanding that we are the only one who sees life from our perspective. We are the only one who can live life like we do. Our mind, our body, our soul, our hearts are instruments for expressing our inner selves.
In the last year of clearly recalling being attacked, I haven't disclosed to my family what happened. Even though I was pressure by this false sense of obligation to tell them I knew the memories of that awful moment hides in my mind and I am in charge on how it lives within the world. It isn’t always safe to be vulnerable. A flower blooms when the environment isn’t harsh. When we bloom, it’s because our environment provides a safe place to feel comfortable enough to share our scars. For some, they might need time to process it alone before processing with the world. Or a survivor might need assistance in processing. Or some might disclose their experience, but withhold certain details. Whatever you decide to do, it’s your choice. For me, trauma became a sinkhole and I needed someone to pull me out. My body is coexisting with my brain which holds the memories that haunts me. A couple months after my assault, during a panic attack I told my mom I wanted to kill myself. Without my mom I would've attempted suicide. What I needed was to watered a place of safety in friendship and family. I cultivated relationships that could bear my soul with care and love that cherishes me. My family was toxic but we had love to hold onto while we cleanse ourselves from toxic behavior so we can provide each other with healthy connections.
Unimaginable strength has developed from being able to survive a deathless death. We are brave enough to reach out for help despite the lies that nags at us. I do wish I sought help from people empathetic, mentally available; not toxic, but resourceful and understanding of my experience and what I needed to heal. With the world becoming aware and knowledgeable of sexual violence there are more allies for us. Whether it's your family or friends, your professors, your mentors, a therapist. It doesn’t have to be someone you know necessarily. It can be through an organization such as #metoo, RAINN, Bitter Blush, etc. They don’t necessarily need to know that you are a survivor. Having access to them whenever you need human interaction, uplifting, someone to attend your legal events, to go to the clinic, to sit with you during a flashback can be tremendously healing. Reach out to someone or something that will elevate you when you are ready.
In return of all the grace that was given to me after my experience, I want to give it all to you. I care deeply about your soul. Reach out to me if you gravitated towards my words. You aren't alone in your pain. You aren't alone in this world.