16 years ago I was sexually assaulted. It happened the second month of my college career and forever changed who I was, who I am and who I imagine I will become. In the years following my assault, I would struggle to feel safe, to feel happy, to feel confident and it has forever impacted how I feel about justice.
I, like may children and young adults were told that justice existed and it was on the side of all who struggled. I expected that when people were bad, they would be punished and when people were good, they would be rewarded. Nothing could be further from the truth. Following my assault I lost my world, I lost my life, I lost myself and I lost my hope. The man who assaulted me lost nothing. He finished school and as far as I can tell through social media, is traveling the world.
Today, like many days, I sit and think about my life and my world. I think about how hard it has gotten to trust in the good around me. I think about how scary the world is, even though I am surrounded by people who protect and love me. I think about how much I have lost, over the years. I used to want to be a lawyer but after being treated like it was my fault, being ignored by police, doctors, counselors, school administrators and other people I tried to trust... I just realized my voice would not be heard.
It has taken 15 years of fighting, but I finally am able to remind myself to never stop using my voice. I have lost the trust of many, especially those whose job it was to help me... but I refuse to lose my voice. I will continue to talk about my journey, I will continue to put a face to rape culture and I will continue to speak up on behalf of those who feel they too have been muted.
I write this to remind those of you who feel lost, alone, scared and muted, that you have a voice. I know it make feel like that voice is not loud enough to be heard. I know you may take a few weeks, months or even years to work up the strength to use it again... but please remember it is the one thing that he/she/they cannot ever take!
There is no "right time" to speak, or "wrong time" to be silent... it is all on your watch BUT, when you feel you can stand up and speak out, do so with pride and with the reminder that you ARE worth hearing. It may take time and time again to feel heard, but never stop speaking up. I have found my journey to be terrorizing, I wouldn't wish it on anyone BUT when I speak up and when I use my voice...I finally get a moment of strength. Just because people may not hear you, does not mean you are not worthy of speaking.
We all have a voice, we all have a choice... be as loud or as quiet as you want BUT know that speaking up and speaking out is somethingnobody can ever take from you!!! We have lost enough, we cannot also lose our voice.