Trigger warning: sexual assault and mental health struggles.
Each year I hope I don’t realize what day it is and that I'd forget, but alas it’s yet to happen. Four years ago today I was sexually assaulted by someone I thought was a true friend. It was devastating and left me ripped to pieces hating myself and my body even more.
Pieces which I’m still picking up.
Because the thing is, the problems didn’t stop just at what happened that night. That night blew the freakin lid off of all the past trauma I had been suppressing. Past trauma which, unfortunately, is a longer list than most people realize or know and contains items worse than what happened that night. A lot of demons and dark moments came up engulfing me.
I hated myself, I blamed myself, I was angry with myself that I didn’t handle it differently, and I for sure beat the crap out of myself. As tons more came up those things just got worse and worse. It seeped into everything, my relationship, my job, my friendships. I was already a guarded person but this had me putting up even more walls than even I realized. I had also fallen back into old and bad coping mechanisms, leaving me in even more of a dark space. I had already perfected my "everything's fine" mask that it was super easy to bring that back, even stronger than before.
It wasn't until my old therapist said to me something along the lines of "you are the most well protected person I've ever met. You have so many walls and protective mechanisms you're giving me grey hair" that I realized the amount to which this event affected me. I knew it had an impact but didn't realize the extent, kind of a last straw moment that I had shut down completely.
It’s taken a long time, and therapy, to realize that night, as well as other events, weren’t my fault. I handled them the best I could in that moment. I don’t have to explain myself: it didn’t matter what I wore, if I had a drink, or anything along those lines. What happened was wrong, hurtful, and not. my. fault.
I will totally admit and say I’m still working on this and it’s a daily battle to believe and work through all my dark moments. I go back and forth, and up and down daily. I have to remind myself that recovery isn't linear, celebrate the little things, and don't beat myself up anytime I do take steps backwards. I am by no means perfect.
So why am I posting about this?
Not for attention or sympathy but because I’ve finally realized I do have a voice and it’s a voice I want to use to help others, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me.
This happens to about 1 in 6 people, every 68 seconds, which is way too often. The more I talk to people about it the more "me too" I hear, and it's so heartbreaking. I want to let anyone who this has happened to, in any form, know they are not alone.
I want to start these conversations and break the stigma so those suffering through any mental health battles feel more comfortable reaching out and getting the support they deserve. That people can go to therapy, tell their story, and not be shamed for it. I want to take the shame away from this entire area.
I want to shed light on the fact that mental health support needs to be more accessible to everyone. These conversations need to happen more often, be more regular, normal. Everyone has the right to come forward and talk about things. I know so many of those people who have said "me too" to me, whether with sexual assault or just mental health struggles in general, have not told anyone and keep it in the shadows. Talking about it takes away some of the power it holds on you and instead gives you power, and with this power you can empower others. But we need to make this support more accessible, these conversations more normal, so those who do need to speak feel comfortable doing so and know judgment and shame will not follow.
I also want to remind you to choose empathy first and always. Most likely someone you know has been through this, or something similar, and they hear your comments and see your posts. I’ve had some negative reactions when I tell people things and it’s awful. It’s led me to not talk to people as much about things and work even harder to find my voice and be comfortable with it. You really don’t know what others are dealing with. You don’t know what battles they’ve fought or are going through. So be kind, be empathetic, be loving, be a good human.
Lastly, I’m here to tell you…you are not alone. I see you fighting those inner battles and powering though. I see you putting your best foot forward and putting on that mask even though inside you are struggling. You're not the only one out there, there are others and we are here for you.
Know you don’t have to go it alone. You deserve help, healing, and support. You are so loved and wanted here. And no matter how you feel about yourself, where you are in life, or what battle you are fighting
You. Are. Worth. It.