Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What Am I Thinking?

I have always known I wanted to help people who had been through sexual assaults and rape, but slowly over the last year I have started really finding my way.  It started with me getting my beautiful Dutch Shepherd, Kira.  She functions as my personal PTSD service dog, but mostly she's a beloved member of our family.  After getting her I stabilized and began to improve and grew stronger.  I knew almost immediately that I wanted to be able to pass on the incredible gift I got in Kira to others, so I am in training to become a service dog trainer.  But that just wasn't quite enough.  I have had so much of my life dictated by my traumas, either hiding them or playing them off as no big deal.  I decided its time for me to share my story, my struggles, my journey to recovery.  There is a tremendous need for change in our society, victim blaming being one of the first things that needs to stop immediately.  It is preposterous, ignorant, and just plain stupid to say it is a victim's fault she was raped, how on earth does a woman MAKE a man rape her?  Is there a specific article of clothing that is only worn when one is looking to be raped?  Just because she may have slept with 25 other guys doesn't mean you automatically get to be #26 just because she smiled at you.  I mean honestly, its just plain ridiculous.

Forgive my rant, its just one of those issues that boils my blood.  

As I was saying, I decided it was time to share my story, in the hopes that it will not only help jumpstart the necessary dialogue, but also give hope and courage to other victims out there.  Before I go any further, I must say this: I do not like the word "victim", it implies the victim is helpless, hopeless, and powerless--and a rape survivor is none of those things.  A rape survivor is someone who has been to hell and back and is still fighting for their life and sanity back.  So instead of calling yourself or others "rape victims", try calling them "rape survivors".  Its a subtle change, but it gives the survivor empowering hope.

My assaults began when I was in my early teens, I was raped my freshman year in college, a few weeks later there was an attempted rape.  I hit rock bottom.  Apparently the statistics about revictimization are spot on.  I felt like it was my fault, that I had not done everything that I was taught right because if I had then I wouldn't have been a victim.  I kept these traumatic moments locked away for fear if anyone knew I was vulnerable then even worse things might happen.  People who have met me since I left Memphis know much more about my past, but those who knew me prior to my HS graduation know very little if anything.  I was so full of shame, I couldn't stand the idea of all those people judging me, too.  

I'll write more about my past at a later date, but for now just know that I am done blaming myself for the crimes of others and feeling shame for the violent acts perpetrated on me.  I.  Am.  DONE.  I hope that other survivors will read this blog of my journey as a survivor and find courage and hope, and that bystanders reading will join in and help promote awareness and the much needed change.

This is nerve wracking to be opening up to the unknown masses about my dark secret struggle, I can't deny that it makes me anxious- talking about this stuff to anyone make me anxious.  But this is a struggle I'm choosing and that is empowering.

Any survivors who read this, please feel free to email me if you want to talk, share, comment.  I know how much it helped me to be able to talk to other survivors.  Well, really anyone, survivor or not, is welcome to contact me with comments, questions, concerns, stories, etc.