Some weeks go by and I'll have three people reveal to me that they have been sexually assaulted or abused in some way. Some nights I stand in the shower and just cry because I don't know what else to do. Sometimes I drive around with my music blaring so loud that it drowns out my angry screams. I hurt so badly, and I haven't endured half the injustices and attacks of many.
So, Survivor, this one's for you.
Let me begin by saying this isn't your fault. I know you've heard this time and time again, but this time let it really sink in. This is not your fault. In no way did you ask for it. It wasn't your clothes. It wasn't the makeup you chose to wear. It wasn't the alcohol you consumed. It was in no way your fault.
You know the saying "Things happen for a reason"? That reason isn't that you deserved it. The reason is that our society perpetuates rape culture. It is because our society says that some lives are more valuable than others.
It is not you.
And I know that for most of you, your attacker didn't find you alone in a dark alley. And I know that for many of you, your attacker also takes shape as a loved one-a friend, a significant other, a family member, a coworker, a person you never thought could hurt you.
For those of you that are tired of hurting, tired of living in fear, tired of the flashbacks, tired of seeing your attacker around campus- rest your head on my shoulder. I can't promise you that everything is going to be okay. Time and time again the system has failed you, but I sure as hell will hold your hand every step of the way. More than anything, I want you to know that your story will be heard and validated.
Remember you are a survivor. You may have been burned and beaten, but you have not been defeated. You may feel weak, but you are not worthless. You are so much stronger than you even know. But being a survivor is so much more than being strong or being fearless. Being a survivor means doing whatever it takes, whatever you need to survive. That means taking the time to mourn, allowing yourself to hurt, and preparing to heal.
Each fight is different. There is no "right" way to respond. You don't have to tell your parents or even all your friends. You don't have to open an investigation. You don't have to post about it on social media. You see this is the time where you get to be in charge. Nobody can tell you how to survive. All I do ask is that you tell somebody because no matter how strong you are, you shouldn't have to do this alone.
And that's exactly why I am here. For all the survivors out there that can't do this alone, for those that are ready to go to battle, I am here to fight for you and next to you.
See, these issues are so much bigger than survivors alone. It doesn't matter who you are, what gender you identify with, your sexuality, or so on, sexual assault and abuse affect all of us. This is a fight we should all be up in arms about. So I won't stop fighting until all of my brothers and sisters see justice. I will scream loud enough for all of us. I will go out kicking and screaming. I will not be done until all lives are valued.
You can do this,
Your friend, supporter, and ally.