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4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Survived 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.

This is it. I am going to be brutally honest with everyone.

I am a sexual assault survivor. It was not until a couple of months ago, in a psychiatric hospital, when I could finally say I was a survivor of sexual assault.

Here are a few things I wish I had been told before this experience.

1. It is not my fault.

I was never told it was my fault, but I was also never told it wasn’t my fault. This is a big one for anyone who experiences any amount of trauma. However, know that if you are a survivor of sexual assault, it is not your fault. I did not ask for it. I am powerful, strong and so, so brave for going through this. I am learning to love myself because I deserve to know I am precious and worthy of love.

2. Coercion is rape.

Going into a psychiatric hospital, I was under the impression coercion was just that: coercion. I had no idea it was rape. It wasn’t until my doctor on the assessment unit at the hospital said coercion is the same thing as manipulation. It is rape. I did not give consent, and I certainly did not ask for it to happen to me.

3. Just because I froze, does not mean I did not fight.

At the beginning of this all, I thought that since I froze, it meant I did not fight. That is wrong, however. My doctor has explained to me that your body will go into fight, flight or freeze mode. She said it is very common for those who have experienced sexual assault to freeze. In your mind, you were fighting to stay alive. You were still violated. It is important to know that you, that I did nothing wrong.

4. I did not deserve this.

I did not deserve this. Those nights I woke up from countless nightmares while in hospital, I reminded myself, as well as my individual therapist in hospital, that I did not deserve this. I did not deserve to hate every single bone in my body due to something that was out of my control. I deserve self-love and a life full of beauty.

I will wrap this up because there are still some things which I am not comfortable talking about and making public. However, I am learning to speak up as a survivor, not as a victim. I am strong, powerful and courageous. I get to have a voice for those who are too afraid or ashamed to speak up. I will stand up for my past self who was too scared to admit this part of my life to anyone. I will rise above my trauma because life on the other side is so worth it.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash