Dear Survivor,

Do me a favor before you read any further. I’m going to give you one last chance to think of all the people who ever told you that you were at fault for your own sexual assault. Chances are that none of the people you just thought of were survivors of rape. But you, you are. And despite what all of those people think, what happened to you was not your fault. The sad truth is that there are 293,066 reported victims (age 12 or older) of sexual assault each year. That means it happens about once every 107 seconds. God only knows how many go unreported, or occur amongst children under 12. But you already know this. I’m going to step down off my soap box, because you know better than anyone that this is a problem. You’ve lived it first hand.

You feel broken, permanently damaged, forever being held in the grips of your past. You might feel like you’re missing pieces of yourself, and sadly, you’re right. There’s some things you’ll never be able to get back, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be whole again. You’re just a new type of whole.

Did you ever make your mom some sort of pottery for Mother’s Day when you were young? You’d spent weeks in art class trying to get it just right. Then you painted it. You picked out the perfect colors. Everything was exactly how you wanted it. Then finally, after weeks of working and waiting, it was done. You gave it to your mom on Mother’s Day and you’d never seen her love something so much. One day, however, she dropped it. You were so upset. But she loved it so much she gathered up all the pieces and glued them back together. Some of the pieces were too small to reassemble, and you can still see the cracks to this day, but it’s whole.

You are that once shattered plate. You made yourself into someone, and it took you years to get to where you were. But then you got dropped, broken, shattered. You felt, or maybe still even feel, like all your pieces are scattered on the kitchen floor. The real question is, do you love yourself enough to gather yourself up and glue all your little pieces back together? I’m here to tell you that it is more than possible.

You are not lesser than you used to be. You are still the same beautifully durable person, with a few cracks. And that is more than okay. You’ve fought through an emotionally and physically trying battle, and you’ve survived. It is okay, to not be okay. Before you do anything, you must believe this and I mean that with everything I have. You don’t have to pretend to be okay all the time, and that’s something it took me a long time to realize. Please never be afraid to tell someone that you aren’t okay. The support of people around you is the glue that will keep all your little pieces together.

Some days are better than others. Sometimes the panic attacks don’t come, and the flashbacks are kept at bay, but other days you need people around you to keep you together. Somedays you need someone to call you and tell you that it’s okay to get out of bed. It’s tempting to let yourself fall even more apart, but please resist the temptation of apathy.

There will most definitely be people who challenge you, who doubt you, in a way that is unhealthy, and it is more than okay to cut these people out of your life. You don’t need the toxicity of negative people in your life, because you are someone worth cherishing. You are still a beautiful piece of art, and you still deserve every compliment and all the uplifting praise you got before. You are more than “good enough”, in fact, your presence on this earth is inspiration and assurance to the scared 16 year old who didn’t know to speak up about her abusive boyfriend. Because, she’s still in me somewhere, and you are why she kept going. You are not a victim. You are a survivor. You are the reason I’m writing this right now.

But the biggest and most important thing I have to say to you, is that love is possible even with cracks and holes. You can love again. Love yourself, love others, and as impossible as it may seem, you can let others in to love you. If you take nothing else from this, please take love. Nothing will ever be able to fill the little holes that he created, but you can sure as hell glue yourself back together with love. Trust again, love again, be whole again.

Sincerely,

A Cracked Piece of Art