While our culture has always been a rape culture, the recent revolution against sexual violence and harassment and its current place in mainstream media has become a real movement. As a survivor of sexual violence, every time another brave person takes the microphone and tells their truth, I can't help but feel a powerful wave of strength rejuvenate within me.
That being said, it has also become somewhat exhausting to sign onto social media, check the news or have any sort of conversation without the topic of sexual assault and violence coming up. I know I have certainly tried to shield myself from triggers by not signing into Facebook or Twitter, opting out of social gatherings, and bowing out or even avoiding certain conversations or topics.
I am in control of how and whom I spend my time with, as we all should be. However, sometimes the tactics mentioned above do the opposite of heal me. Not only will pushing down all of the uncomfortable feelings keep our culture from learning, growing and making real change, but it will also keep you from doing these things as well.
While I do not owe anything to anyone--and neither do you, I do feel a certain duty as a survivor to educate people on consent and rape culture. This requires two promises to myself: one, to always speak out and up for my own voice, but also for those of us whose voices have been silenced. And two, to stick to my first promise as long as I am making my self and well-being a priority.
So, while there are times to remove yourself from conversations to protect yourself, there are also times to push yourself in order for the greater good of our society. So when it is safe to, you should have those uncomfortable conversations and help your peers who don't already, to understand consent. It is not an easy journey to decipher, and your trauma will never go away or be "cured," but healing is possible and you are the person in control of that.