sexual assault survivors

Join the Conversation on
sexual assault survivors
4.2K people
0 stories
430 posts
Note: The hashtags you follow are publicly viewable on your profile; you can change this at any time.
Newsletters
Don’t miss what’s new on The Mighty. We have over 20 email newsletters to choose from, from mental health to chronic illness.
Browse and Subscribe
What's New in sexual assault survivors
All
Stories
Posts
Videos
Latest
Trending

Being Called to Jury Duty on a Rape Case as a Sexual Assault Survivor

I was relaxing by my fire pit a few weeks ago when my housemate brought me a piece of mail. It was a form I hoped I’d never see: a jury duty summons. I opened it, viewed the dates, and followed all the next steps. My first day as a potential juror finally arrived, and I had all kinds of questions running through my mind. What kind of case might I hear? Will I know anyone else there? What if the case lasts for more than a day? None of those questions really jarred me much. No question from any other potential juror bothered me either. The question that really got to me came from the judge. We all piled into the courtroom and were told the case involved rape and domestic violence. The “innocent until proven guilty” defendant was a young man. The sexual assault survivor was a woman. I was sitting in the middle of the room — there were several people in front of me and several behind me. The judge introduced us to those who were involved in the case and read a list of possible witnesses. The judge asked questions like “Does anyone know these people?” and “Is anyone going to have potential hardship if they are required to be here?” A few folks raised their hands, and about five or six of them were excused. The judge then asked the question that stayed with me: “Is anyone here unable to remain unbiased due to life experiences?” The thought had been in the back of my mind — I had wondered if they’d take personal experience into account. I’d felt uneasy and angry just thinking about the situation, and it felt like a ton of bricks hit me. I felt myself raise my hand before the question was even complete. I felt emotional as I saw numerous other people in the courtroom raising their hands too. I didn’t turn to look who raised their hands behind me. The judge called up one person at a time and gave the option for the individual to approach them so that the entire courtroom didn’t hear such personal stories. One by one, every person who approached the judge was excused. After firmly stating why I could not remain unbiased, I was excused from the courtroom too. When I turned to walk out of the room, I saw that many of the people behind me had their hands raised as well. I left the building feeling nauseated. The memories of everything that had happened to me came flooding back — memories of how no one believed me and my assailant got away. I felt guilty for not staying in the courtroom so I could be on the survivor’s side. I felt guilty for not being able to remain unbiased in a rape case. I felt sick and angry thinking of all of those jurors who had been hurt in the same way I had. The majority of the potential jurors were excused because of one question about their likely traumatic experiences. The majority of the excused jurors were women — but some were men as well. Some of them shared their experiences out loud, which was brave of them. It really started to set in — a substantial amount of people have survived some form of sexual assault in their lifetimes. This is why we need laws protecting sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, and we need people to believe us. There are so many of us who’ve survived this crime that we need to be heard.

Community Voices

So much stuff!!!

I have been having a really hard time and it’s been a reallly long year for my family.
About me I have Fibro, RA, IC/BPS, sciatica AS, DDD, SpinalFusion spinalstenosis etc..

I have my oldest brother who had a stroke this year. We have always spoken and never had and any issues ( unlike my other siblings that’s another post).

When I was younger my brother more than once sexually assaulted me.
I don’t know if it actually considered that
I was sexually assaulted by my father when I was a child and raped at 15 by an older man.

My brother who is 20 years older than me tried to kiss me on more than one occasion this was when I was in elementary school. He I found out a few years ago was also along with my brothers and my sister were sexually assaulted by my father as well.

So the situation is idkw but after he had his stroke I just couldn’t speak to him.
I did only speak to him because of my mother. I did tell my mother when I was younger and I can only say she made excuses for him and begged me not to not talk to him.

I love my mother very much and we have a very good relationship except for this issue. So I haven’t spoken to him since his stroke and I feel extremely guilty for it.
He has been trying to get in contact with me but I have thwarted contact.

My husband knows and of course he says I should not feel guilty and doesn’t understand why I had been talking to him all these years.
I don’t know if I should say something to my mom who is 85. I don’t think it would do anything but upset her or cause and arguement. Or bother saying anything to my brother. Which idkw I feel bad saying anything which doesn’t make sense.
I know I should have gone to therapy years ago but does anyone have any suggestions how I should proceed in the interim ?

#SexualAbuseSurvivors #SexualAssault #SexualAbuse #SexualAssaultSurvivors #ChildhoodSexualAbuse #SexualTrauma #SexualAssaultAwarenessMonth #RheumatoidArthritis #Fibromyalgia #Fibro #InterstitialCystitis #sciatica #DDD #AnkylosingSpondylitis #painfulbladdersyndrome #LymeDisease #ChronicIlless #ChronicLymeDisease #LymeWarrior #Spoonie #PituitaryTumors #PituitaryTumor #SpinalFusion #gastric sleeve surgery #Anxiety #CPTSD #PTSD #PTSD

8 people are talking about this
Community Voices
Sal
Kaden M (he/they)

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: 5 Ways to Support Survivors

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault is an unfortunately all-too-common occurrence, and contrary to what some may realize, it affects people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and racial identities. I’ve never written about my experience as a survivor before. I’ve always been hesitant to share, often thinking, “what could I possibly have to add to this conversation?” I’ve also thought that my pain wasn’t great enough, large enough to be worthy of attention from others. None of these things are true. It is up to the survivor whether or not they want to disclose their story. I want to share a few things that one can do to support someone in their life who is a sexual assault survivor — and you’re bound to know someone, and even if you don’t realize it. We all know someone, and sometimes this includes ourselves. Here are five ways you can support sexual assault survivors, not just during the month of April but any time someone comes to you in search of support: 1. Ask the person what they need. This is pretty self-explanatory; oftentimes, survivors of trauma know what they would like from a friend or trusted family member when they disclose what happened, while other times they aren’t so sure. Asking the person is a good place to start. 2. Offer them a warm beverage. This might sound silly, but I had a friend in college who offered me a warm drink (typically hot tea) every time I came to her upset or triggered by my traumas. I found this to be not only thoughtful and sweet as a gesture, but that the warm drink regulated my fight-or-flight response system somewhat. 3. Listen and validate rather than jumping to advice-giving. Validation and a kind, a listening ear is often, at least in my case, what helps the most. 4. Don’t ask the survivor details, including who the perpetrator is, if it is not disclosed. It may be hard enough for the survivor to open up, and rehashing certain details, regardless of how long ago the assault happened, can be triggering. 5. If the survivor seems particularly distressed, ask if they would like some coping strategies to do together. Some possible coping strategies include but are not limited to: watching a funny show or movie together, squeezing an ice cube, splashing cold water on one’s face, yoga or meditation, exercise, spending time in nature… these are just some of a few that I’ve used in the past. Another important thing to note is that sometimes, survivors go to other survivors for help. It is important that if you have a history of sexual trauma, to also do self-care during or after helping others. It is also OK to set boundaries if you need to in order to maintain your own well-being. There are crisis lines (such as RAINN) that are available too. I have been engaging in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for a couple of months and it’s really helped me with my traumas, including my sexual trauma. That said, I am grateful to the friends, family, and therapists I have gone to in the past about this subject. I hope that we can be more understanding toward each other and gain awareness of how much sexual assault can rewire someone’s nervous system in a negative way. That being said, therapy can rewire that same nervous system back to a healthier way. I am more than my traumas, as are you. For more stories on sexual violence, check out our list of 24 Mighty stories you need to read if you’ve experienced sexual violence .

Important Stories You Need to Read If You Experienced Sexual Violence

I’m a victim of childhood sexual abuse. At least, I think I am — I can’t verify it, though I know the same man also abused others, and I have visceral memories that tell an incomplete but frightening story. I wish I could say I was the only one I knew who experienced sexual violence, but the horrifying reality is that, according to RAINN.org, an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. Every nine minutes, that victim is a child. Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’ve either experienced sexual violence yourself or you know somebody who has. When it comes to understanding sexual violence, there are a lot of ways it impacts people at every stage of the journey. And, while it’s hardly as clear and linear as “before, during, and after trauma recovery,” we thought it would be helpful to compile some of our best articles walking you through every stage of trauma due to sexual violence. So, if you’re looking for information on types of sexual violence, trauma therapy, doubting the validity of your experience, exploring intimacy after sexual violence, or just looking for some hope that recovery is possible, I hope you can find what you need here. Types of Sexual Violence “Rape is not sex. Sex is not a trigger for me because what my rapist did to me was not sex.” — Ashley Zaccaro Childhood Sexual Abuse “How Old You Were When You Experienced Trauma Matters – Here’s Why” by Sarah Schuster — If you experienced childhood sexual abuse, you might wonder why it seems to impact every little thing that you do. In this explainer, Mighty editor Sarah Schuster explains why the age you experienced trauma affects how you are able to cope and recover. “20 Things You Do as an Adult When You’ve Experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse” by Juliette V. — Speaking of which, we asked our community for the ways childhood sexual abuse affected them into adulthood. Hopefully, this will help you to feel a little less alone. “Let’s Talk Trauma: Why Do Some People Doubt Their Own Experience of Childhood Trauma?” by Vicki Peterson — Uncovering memories of sexual abuse can be terrifying. If you’re experiencing this right now, then we hope this story from trauma coach Vicki Peterson will help you understand the confusion and self-doubt that can arise. “Am I a Victim or a Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse?” by Erin Konrad — It can be hard to decide if you’re a “victim” or a “survivor” of sexual abuse. Ultimately, it’s personal choice. You may not feel like a survivor until you start to heal, and that’s OK. No matter what, though, you’re strong and you will survive this, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re a survivor right now. Sexual Assault “I Didn’t Know I Was Sexually Assaulted” by Serene Helton — Often, sexual assault survivors don’t immediately realize that they were assaulted due to societal expectations, misconceptions, or even not trusting their own memory. If you aren’t sure or weren’t sure about your assault, then this piece is for you. “17 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You Were Sexually Assaulted” by Juliette V. — You might be surprised by the little things you do because you were sexually assaulted. Sexual assault affects people mentally and physically. We asked our community how it affects them, and they answered. “12 Reminders for Sexual Assault Survivors” by Elizabeth Pidgeon — If you experienced sexual assault, there are a number of core things to remember about who you are and what it means for you. Read this list, memorize it, and read it again any time that doubt begins to creep in. “The Truths I’ve Come to Notice in the Aftermath of Rape” by Summer Collins — After experiencing sexual assault, you might find it hard to navigate the changes to your life. In this piece, Summer Collins describes the little truths she has noticed from the inability to trust to becoming possessive over her things. Healing From Sexual Violence Can Be Messy “Sometimes, I come to terms with thinking I was raped, but then I wonder: ‘what if maybe I did give some indication that I was OK with sex?'” — Clare McKenna Doubting Your Experience Is Valid “Your Sexual Assault Still ‘Counts’ Even If You Weren’t Physically Forced” by Haley West — Society often believes sexual assault to look a certain way, but sexual violence is still violence even if it doesn’t look that way. If you don’t believe your sexual assault experience “counts,” then this article is for you. “After My Sexual Assault, I Learned the ‘Fight or Flight’ Response Had a Third Option” by Caitlin W. — Trauma responses go beyond the “fight” and “flight” we often hear about. If you froze during your sexual assault, then you aren’t alone; it’s another way your mind tried to protect you. This story from Caitlin W. explains what this means. “It’s Not Your Place to Decide If My Sexual Assault Was ‘Anything Big’” by Caitlin Collins — Do you find yourself minimizing your experience, or find that others do? Sexual assault is about a lack of consent, and no matter what that means, it’s important to remember that it still “counts” as sexual assault if it was unwanted, no matter what happened. If this sounds familiar, then this is for you. “Why I Struggle to Think of My ‘Nonconsensual Sexual Experience’ as Rape” by Clare McKenna — If you’re in a “gray area” of understanding if your experience counts as rape just like contributor Clare McKenna, then you’re not alone. Trauma Therapy “A Therapist’s Guide to Understanding Trauma Therapy” by Antonieta Contreras — This guide from trauma therapist Antonieta Contreras tells you everything you need to know about trauma therapy as a whole. “What to Expect From EMDR Therapy for Processing Trauma” by Sarah Grayson — EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a type of trauma therapy that has seen much success. It might sound a little bit like magic, but quite often, it just works. Here, Sarah Grayson breaks it down a little. “You Might Not Connect With the ‘Most Successful’ Type of Trauma Therapy, and That’s OK” by Amelia Blackwater — However, as with any type of therapy, sometimes it might just not be for you, and that’s OK. Even the most successful trauma therapy like EMDR doesn’t always fit the person. If that sounds like you, or if you’re worried about it, then this article is for you. “10 Tools for Trauma Survivors Asking ‘How Do I Get Help?’” by Vicki Peterson — If you feel ready to get help for your sexual trauma but don’t know where to start, then this article from trauma coach Vicki Peterson breaks everything down into easy-to-digest pieces. Healing Is Possible After Sexual Violence “Acknowledging that trauma as valid is often the first step on a long but ultimately liberating journey of recovery.” — Vicki Peterson Intimacy After Sexual Violence “What to Know About Intimacy After Experiencing Sexual Assault” by Sarah VanHouten — Sarah VanHouten shares her experience with intimacy after two sexual assaults, explaining how an understanding partner goes a long way. “How I Learned to Have Sex After Losing My Virginity to Rape” by Ashley Zaccaro — In this story, Ashley Zaccaro shares everything she did to learn to have sex after losing her virginity to rape, including the self-help book she used to work through it with her partner. She takes us through every step of her experience to, eventually, the state of being able to have an intimate relationship. “5 Things That Can Make Sex Better (Or at Least More Tolerable) For Sexual Assault Survivors” by Monika Sudakov — Here, Monika Sudakov offers some practical ways she and her husband navigate sexual intimacy while she is in recovery from childhood sexual abuse. “How PTSD Can Affect Sex (And What to Do About It)” by Max Harvey, Ph.D. — It’s a fact that your trauma might affect your reaction to intimate moments, so it’s important to know what to do if it happens. Here, Max Harvey explains their own experience with PTSD affecting sex and what to do about it. Reminders That Healing Is Possible “How Pole Dancing Lessons Helped Me Heal From Sexual Assault” by Sarah Ross — We can find healing in all sorts of unexpected ways. In this article, Sarah Ross explains how pole dancing lessons helped her rediscover her self-confidence and helped her love her body again. “3 Truths I Had to Believe Before I Could Recover From Childhood Sexual Abuse” by Mr. Antares — After experiencing childhood sexual abuse, Antares shares the three truths he had to believe before he could truly recover from his trauma. “Holding Broken Glass to Light: How EMDR Helped Me Face My Trauma” by LKR — In an EMDR success story, this Mighty contributor shares how this type of trauma therapy gave them hope for recovery and understanding. “6 Reminders That Healing After Sexual Violence Is Possible (and 6 More Messages of Support)” by The Mighty Community — In our newest collection of reminders, we asked the Mighty community for the messages of hope they want others living with sexual trauma to know. Their messages are beautiful and affirming. No matter where you are in your trauma recovery journey, we at The Mighty want you to know that you deserve to live a fulfilling, happy life after experiencing sexual violence. We hope you’ll find these articles helpful, and we hope you’ll share your story with us if you feel comfortable doing so.

Reminders That Healing After Sexual Violence Is Possible

We probably already know what you’re thinking; healing after sexual violence feels impossible. But, what if we told you that you’re not alone in that thought? Lots of people feel that way, but healing isn’t out of reach — healing after sexual violence is possible. It’s right there, waiting for you. Everyone here at The Mighty believes so strongly in your strength, your ferocity, and your capability of overcoming the sexual violence you experienced. That’s why we asked our trauma community to offer a few words of support. Below, you’ll find six reminders that healing after sexual violence is possible, along with six more reminders that every survivor of sexual violence needs to hear. Ready to jump in? Yes, Healing After Sexual Violence Is Possible “You cannot blame yourself for what was done to you. It will pop up in your memories, but if you work towards healing, it will hurt a whole lot less. You can do it.” — @ladyoftheelephants “It was not your fault. I remember the day that truth took root in my mind; it changed me. I started to heal. You didn’t deserve what happened, it didn’t happen because you are worthless, defective, or any of those other lies your mind is trying to convince you of. You are deserving of love and care.” — @ginger112 “No matter the reactions you’ve had because of your trauma(s), the fact that you are hurting and angry because of what happened to you doesn’t make you a bad person. When you decide that you want to heal, that is the time you will begin to see how strong and resilient you are and have been. That is when you will learn you can trust yourself to choose who you do and don’t keep in your life. You will go from victim to survivor to thriver.” — @kaylabrown08 “Please don’t carry shame. I carried it around for 40 years; I was 12 and never told anyone until I turned 50. It robbed me of being the person I was meant to be. Tell someone, see a therapist, and get help early on. You can overcome and do great things.” — @newkidney1 “It’s time to open the cell you’ve created for yourself. Close your eyes and go in and rescue that child from the situation. Take her home. Tell her it was never her fault. Tell her how much she is loved, that she is innocent. It was done to her. Then, take gentle care of her. Because she is amazing. There is no one else like her. Look at those unique fingerprints. I believe you. I’m sorry it happened to you. It was never your fault. I love you. Never give up on healing.” — RP “Do what you love. Make decisions on the basis of what makes you happy, not on the basis of what you imagine some non-traumatized version of yourself would want. You’re adequate just as you are. Don’t feel like you’re lesser than someone without trauma.” — @catpi Reminders Every Survivor of Sexual Violence Needs to Hear “You’re so strong for continuing on. Do not lose heart.” — @_roslynnn “You may feel like your assailant and the event make you less of a person, but they don’t. You are still incredible and worthy of love and happiness regardless of what anyone else says. The actions of others don’t change who you are — don’t let anyone steal your shine.” — Megan Glosson “You survived. You are not alone. I believe you.” — @emilyvieweg “If your body responded to the assault, that doesn’t mean you wanted it or consented.” — Monika Sudakov “The assault is not ‘you.’ It is what happened to you. It does not define you or represent who you are. It is the past, and you are a survivor.” — @marlamoi “Forgive yourself because you did nothing wrong and you did what you had to do in that moment to survive.” — @kaysparkles If you’re ready to heal from the trauma you experienced due to sexual violence and you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. Check out the articles below: 10 Tools for Trauma Survivors Asking ‘How Do I Get Help?’ How Old You Were When You Experienced Trauma Matters – Here’s Why Let’s Talk Trauma: ‘How Do I Heal Decades of Trauma?’ What I Wish I Knew Beginning Therapy for Childhood Sexual and Emotional Abuse 12 Mantras for Anyone Healing From Childhood Trauma

Community Voices
Community Voices
Community Voices

A Vile Action on a Night I Forgot

<p>A Vile Action on a Night I Forgot</p>
Community Voices

New group link: Sexual Assault Survivors Chat

Hello everyone. A few weeks ago I tried starting a new group for those of us who went through the incomprehensable. I want to involve as many people as I can in the process of healing from assault. I am still on the journey to heal myself, and I’ve found that taking to those who have been through something similar is the best way to heal. There are others out there who are completely new to this, and there are some who have been struggling with the aftermath for years. This is a topic that feels impossible to talk about, for me it’s the hardest part of the healing process. I want to try to create a space where we can take control of our own healing process. I want to create a space where we don’t only take control of how we heal, but we also regain a sense of control in our own lives.
In this group, you aren’t obligated at all to share your story, or answer questions. Only do so when you feel you are comfortable and ready to do so. I want to learn how to create chat rooms, and host them as often as I’m able, so if we need somewhere to go there is always an open space.
Through healing there is pain. And to face that pain makes you braver than you know. You are not alone, none of us are, and I believe a space to link everyone together will help prevent us from walking this journey alone.
This is a private group, which is why I am posting here on the mighty board. Feel free to join if you are looking for a community of people who understand and validate what you’ve been through.

Group Link: Sexual Assault Survivors Chat