Thank You, Survivors, for Not Being Silent.

Dear Survivors of Sexual Assault Who Have Come Forward:

If only you knew how indebted I am to you. Because of your bravery – because of you facing your fears and demons and complexities, your inner storm that you managed somehow to weather, justice was served; voices were heard; perpetrators got help for their sickness, and the world – even in a small little corner, became better because of you.

It’s not to say that survivors of sexual assault who are silenced are not equally brave, have not equally dealt with inner turmoil, and do not deserve accolades even just for waking up the morning after they were treated horribly, often by someone they felt they could trust. My hope for those people though, is that because of those who talk, inner strength will be contagious, will prevail, will one day become the ‘norm’. Survivors know that they cannot end rape culture, and cannot permanently halt sexual assaults. But what can be done is a change in the climate. Those who tell their stories are the pioneers, the trailblazers, the ones who set the example by giving a voice to all survivors. It gives me hope that there will one day be fewer and fewer and fewer silenced, subjugated individuals.

What happens to so many survivors, is they are stripped of something that ‘others’ take for granted. Asking for directions, saying no in so many situations, hanging onto toxic people far too long, talking to strangers at a party. trusting those who have your best interests in mind, thinking they’re beautiful…become difficult chores that can be faked but rarely, if ever, felt. Eventually survivors retreat into a place where they are alone with their thoughts, and they blame themselves for shortcomings that simply are not there. Hearing a voice is like a strong arm reaching down into the well. It is hopeful and creates solidarity. Suddenly, pain and grief and the need to reconcile and move forward is shared. By someone in the same situation who decided to not let the past dwarf them into silence.

So once again, to those who have opted to be vocal and come forward with their stories, you are doing so much, perhaps without realizing just how much you’re doing for everyone. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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