The Words I Didn't Know I Needed to Hear as a Rape Survivor

“I see you.”

At first glance, it’s a statement that may not strike a chord with you.

The first time someone said this to me it was after I shared my truth. It was after I shared with complete strangers that I am a rape survivor, I struggle with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I am a suicide survivor and I have struggled with addiction. I shared how for years I had remained silent and because of this, I was tired.

It was a complete stranger. They said, “I see you.” I didn’t know how to feel.

There were people in my life, people so close to me, who knew all those things about me. Yet, this statement had never been uttered. This acknowledgement that I was still a person, that my story was important and beautiful, had never been stated in quite this way. There have been acknowledgements that these things have happened, that I must pack up and move on and that I “shouldn’t dwell on the past.” However, never has such an acknowledgement that my story was a critical piece to the movement of ending mental health stigma and rape culture been made. This is what it means when someone says, “I see you.”

I see all of you too, and I want to tell you why.

We are all surviving, around the clock, every single day. We are surviving in worlds we don’t understand. In worlds that sometimes feel like they are swallowing us whole. In worlds that feel like they are collapsing in on us. We can’t escape, and we don’t know why. In worlds where time keeps passing us by too quickly and we just keep falling behind.

We are surviving next to people who don’t always get it. Who we don’t want to get it because we don’t want them to bear the burden of knowledge. Who we don’t want to understand the ins and outs of mental illness or surviving sexual assault or domestic violence because that means they have to experience it too. We survive next to loved ones, spouses and partners who want to love us so badly but don’t know how, who we entangle in the beauty of our personalities and the complexities of our true selves.

We are surviving illnesses and experiences, which unless you have experienced them, you cannot understand. For this, we are kind, humble and loyal. We are beautiful people who feel broken by society. In reality, it is society who lets us down.

Yet, I see you, because I am surviving it too. I want to let you know that it’s society that has it all wrong. I want to let you know you have a community of people to fall back on when you feel like you have no one else. You are not alone. You are understood, appreciated and valued for the human being you are.

I want to let you know there is hope. There is tomorrow, and I want to see you there with me. Above all else, please, know I see you because I understand you. I am still surviving, too.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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