How Pole Dancing Lessons Helped Me Heal From Sexual Assault
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.
A few years ago, I went through what no person ever wants to go through, but unfortunately is something a lot of people endure: sexual assault. It didn’t happen like it does in movies, and honestly, if I look back on it, it actually feels surreal. It took a long time for me to process what happened, it wasn’t instant for me. I didn’t go home later and break down, it took about six to seven months before it sunk in. I pushed that memory so far down so quickly that it took a long time for me to openly admit it happened.
Once I did, though, I lost all self-confidence, I felt dirty and I hated myself for not seeing it coming and not reacting how I thought I would. I refused to go on dates, I even refused to talk about sex with anyone. I had disassociated with myself, and I couldn’t stand looking at myself in the mirror. I thought I was never going to overcome it, that the person who did it robbed me of my dignity. I could feel myself getting stuck in this never-ending circle of just reliving the memory and hating myself more. So, I thought of trying something new to get myself out the house to see if it would build up my self-confidence.
Pole dancing is something I’d always wanted to try, but never had the courage to. I always thought the way people would pull off tricks on the pole and do a freestyle dance was incredible because you need so much strength and confidence to do it. I found a studio online that had amazing reviews and just threw myself into it before I’d start overthinking it too much. The feeling I had after my first class was indescribable, I knew I had to keep coming back. And I did. Every class I took, I could feel my self-confidence growing, the encouragement and support I got from my trainers and other people in class was pushing me to keep going. Each time I succeeded in something new was another triumph for me, I felt on top of the world.
But best of all, I fell in love with my body again. I no longer felt dirty, I no longer hated myself, I no longer felt the need to hide away from people and feel ashamed. I had this new kind of love for myself that was so strong it made me look at what happened to me in a new light. It made me realize I am able to overcome such an awful memory and still live my life. It made me realize I wouldn’t let it ruin me. Instead, I’d let it make me stronger.
Unfortunately, there’s still a large stigma around pole, and I think it’s ridiculous. There isn’t any other thing in this world that has built my self-confidence the way pole lessons have. I’ve found that you just get so lost in what you’re doing, it takes you to a different place mentally. I learned how to love every part of myself because of pole. I learned how to let go of anything that was plaguing my mind every time I would grab hold of a pole at the start of a lesson. The atmosphere being around such supportive people all enjoying the same thing and all encouraging each other was so uplifting.
The best part, though? I learned how to love myself again, and it feels amazing.
Original photo by author