Why Your Sexual Assault Is Valid: An Open Letter

Recently, my best friend revealed that she may have been sexually assaulted her freshman year of college. She never said no and he tried to manipulate her into letting him not wear a condom. Shortly after, another good friend of mine told me how her now ex-partner deliberately took off his condom during sex without her consent. These conversations triggered my mind into thinking about my own sexual assault almost 4 years ago in which my 20-something-year-old assaulter encouraged his friends to get me drunk so he could have sex with me to make his ex jealous. All of our stories overlapped because we all questioned for a period of time whether or not we were really sexually assaulted or if our partners were just assholes. This is an open letter to anyone who needs it:

To a survivor,

You are so much stronger than you think you are.

It takes months to years to a lifetime sometimes of blood, sweat and tears to realize that your date, partner, friend, relative, or absolute stranger is a rapist. You are not to blame for what has happened to you. It can happen to anyone, no matter your gender, sexuality, age, race, religion, level of intoxication, choice in clothing, etc.

You did not deserve this.

Your emotions are and always will be valid. Whether or not you see an event as a sexual assault, you went through a trauma. You survived a trauma that brings about emotions words can’t even begin to explain. Someone pushed you past your comfort zone in the most horrendous way possible that is in no way your fault.

Your story is valid.

Assault is not as black and white as the media makes it seem. Sometimes, it’s someone you trust. Or someone who doesn’t give you the whole truth. Or someone you care about enough to make exceptions for. Or even influences outside of drugs and alcohol like peer pressure, social constructs, and past trauma. You don’t have to file a report, you don’t have to tell everyone you meet, and you certainly don’t owe your assaulter an explanation for whatever actions you choose to take.

Things will get easier.

At first, your story will be hard to tell. You’ll forget details and that is okay. The human brain has a difficult time remembering painful events in immense detail. And while over time you will heal, it still might hurt. The more you work through your trauma the more you’ll remember. The smallest of triggers might send you into panic attacks. Your mental health overall might get worse. But, it’s the only way to move on. With time, the gash will repair itself but the scar will remain. Life will mend itself.

Talk to someone.

Reach out, people are there for you. Generally, if you’re over 18, therapists won’t report unless you say their name but I would ask your mental health specialist. If you choose to report, your personal therapist/psychiatrist/mental health counselor or SAP (Survivor Advocacy Program) with their 24/7 crisis line and CPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) on the Ohio University campus would be more than happy to assist. The Campus Care Center also offers transport to O’Bleness Hospital for SAFE exams (rape kits) as well as resources for STD testing & treatment, HIV testing, and emergency contraception. Even if you do report, it does not mean that you have to press criminal charges.

While it isn’t very healthy to unload all of your trauma on your friends and family alone, there are people who care about you who want to help you. You don’t have to explain the situation, just ask for comfort; whether that’s a scary movie night, a hiking trip in Hocking Hills, or just someone to sit and do homework with. Sometimes being around people who love you can help the healing process.

You will make it through this.

 

Resources:

Survivor Advocacy Program

740-597-7233 (24/7 crisis line)

Lindley Hall 038/038C

www.ohio.edu/survivor

Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS)

740-593-1616


3rd Floor Hudson Health Center

www.ohio.edu/counseling

[email protected]

Campus Care

740-593-1660


1st Floor Hudson Health Center

www.oucom.ohiou.edu/campuscare

National Sexual Assault Hotline (Operated by RAINN)

1-800-656-4673

Anonymous Chat: https://hotline.rainn.org/online/ Available 24 hours every day