Why I Don't Buy Into 'New Year, New Me' as Someone Who Experienced Sexual Assault


Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

And here we sit, the last day of another year. The older I get, the faster they seem to go. While an overused saying, it is an unfortunate truth.

With the speed of time, I have dedicated myself to stop doing this one thing: using, or even yet, wasting, this precious time I have here on Earth, constantly trying to create a “new” version of myself. Of my soul, my mind, or my body.

For me, doing this would mean I believe I am broken. That I believe and buy into the trauma I have experienced — that it was deserved. For me, doing so means I buy into the negative perceptions of body image and culture. For me, doing so would mean ignoring my mental health and chronic illnesses altogether, pushing them aside as if they didn’t help create the person that I am, as if they do not matter.

I feel the very desire to want to be “new” all the time does the utmost disservice is loving and accepting who I am — who we are — as human beings and individuals, meeting ourselves at whatever intersections we are at. Because truthfully, what is wrong with the “old” selves we are trying to shed? Ultimately, everyone is trying to shed themselves of something that makes them human, and something that, as an activist, we work towards ending either stigma towards or acceptance for, or any combination in between.

Resolutions of “newness” are things society wants us to be ashamed of. Our weight, our mental health, our traumas, our very selves. That we must be “new” because being our old, imperfect selves in a new year means we are still going to be unworthy and unsuccessful; this is a narrative that sets anyone up for failure.

The danger in trying to fit into someone else’s narrative is that you don’t belong there. You don’t own it. Someone else controls whatever fire they are burning. They control whatever fuel they pour. When people tell you to change, to be different, we must question why. We must question exactly what it is we are meant to be ashamed of.

Usually, it is nothing.

For the longest time, I was so ashamed of my trauma — a crime committed against me. Writing, saying it, I realize now how backwards it sounds. But that’s rape culture. For so long I wanted to be a “new” person, hoping that newness would help rid the fact that it happened in the first place. But for me, newness is denying the strength it took to overcome rape. It means denying the courage to stand up, to be a face and help other survivors in whatever capacity I can. For me, newness means shutting up.

Newness to me meant not dealing with trauma and what comes with it. Newness meant pretending life was fine when it wasn’t. It happened. It happened without my consent. And in time, I learned I had a right to stand up for myself, that when something wrong happens to you, you don’t need to erase yourself and become new — you need to love and accept who you are in the face of someone who didn’t and use that as your power to change society.

My story is a piece of the puzzle. We are all connected somehow; sometimes my story is shutting up and listening, and sometimes my story is standing in front of hundreds of strangers, discussing trauma and suicide. In doing so, no new me is needed. Healing is not linear, and it doesn’t take newness to understand that.

New year, more cupcakes. To 2018 and beyond.

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 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Getty Images photo via LanaBrest


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