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18 Songs That Have Helped Survivors Find Hope After Sexual Assault

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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.

The aftermath of sexual assault trauma is complex and different for each individual experiencing it. While music cannot “cure” the pain left in the wake of a traumatic incident, for many individuals, music can be a comfort in recovery. Sometimes, songs can meet us right where we are in our struggle and give us hope for the future.

• What is PTSD?

We wanted to know what songs gave sexual assault survivors hope, so we asked our mental health community to share what songs helped them in their recovery.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Til It Happens To You” by Lady Gaga

“It just sums up all the raw emotions I’ve felt over the years… It reminds me to ignore the people who victim blame because they never experienced what I’ve experienced, and unless they have, they’d never understand the battles I face. Music is one of the biggest things that helped me through those rough times.” — CK D.

2. “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” by Cher

“[This song] helps me throughout this process of reporting and talking to authorities about it.” — Tiana B.

3. “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige

“Cause that’s all it seemed to bring me in some aspects of trusting people… So eliminating the drama (trauma) [helped me]. ‘No one’s ever gonna hurt me again!’” — Knowledge L.

4. “Recovery” by Frank Turner

“It pushed me to get into therapy and open up more.” — Carrie R.

5. “Warrior” by Demi Lovato

“The vocals are strong and the song is so powerful. It’s a song I could put on and feel like I had overcome so much just by being in the music. Healing doesn’t happen in a day or overnight, but the feeling of strength and power and survival can happen with one moment that sets off the right spark inside. This song set that spark off for me.” — Sarah C.

6. “Sleep Spent” by Death Cab for Cutie

“‘Sleep Spent’ by Death Cab for Cutie, which is odd because the song is more about alcoholism than assault, but the first half of the lyrics really helped me.” — Conor L.

7. “Elastic Heart” by Sia

“My ex was emotional and sexually abusive… ‘Elastic Heart’ by Sia helped me through the process of realizing everything he had done. It still hits me now, but the lyrics really resonated with me [at the time].” — Izzy D.

8. “Hall of Fame” by The Script feat.

“Especially the line, ‘You can walk straight through hell with a smile.’” — Abbey T.

9. “Hero” by Mariah Carey

“The entire song, but especially, ‘So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong and you’ll finally see the truth that a hero lies in you.’” — Mindi F.

10. “Not Ready to Make Nice” by The Chicks

“It was my power after everything. I couldn’t change what happened, but I did have a right to my feelings around it.” — Jennifer V.

11. “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” by Simon and Garfunkel

“[This song] seems to be about transcendence and transformation, and resolve, while adequately describing loneliness and desperation.” — Stefanie H.

12. “Why” by Rascal Flatts

“It gave me strength and hope through remembering I am loved.” — Douglas T.

13.“Titanium” by David Guetta feat. Sia

“Sia was discussed during my counseling, so that’s always reminded me of that time in my life and how I’m still here and pulling through the dark days.”

14. “Blackbird” by The Beatles

“It helped me when I was in high school and discovering my sexuality and… [when I] had flashbacks.” — Sam B.

15. “The Warrior’s Code” by Dropkick Murphys

“I didn’t discover it til much later, but it reminds me I’m a warrior.” — Jennifer P.

16. “F*ckin’ Perfect” by P!nk

“[I’ve] been sexually assaulted multiple times throughout my life. Nothing but time and strength make it easier to cope, but music instills a solidarity like no other.” — Jennifer C.

17. “Human” by Christina Perri

“I was constantly guilty and second guessing my actions to be perfect and make him happy. This song reminded me I am only human and that means being imperfect. Even when I would do everything for him, it would never seem enough. This song helped me feel less alone and that what I was feeling was valid.” — Izzy D.

18. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

“Won’t go into much [detail], but my song was and still is ‘I Will Survive.’ Enough said.” — Jan W.

What would you add?

Originally published: June 1, 2017
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