Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Learning How to Love My Body After Being Sexually Assaulted

In honor of it being sexual assault awareness month and it being a year since I was raped, I decided to reflect on what my life has been since then. A lot has changed in my life as a result, especially when it comes to how I view my body. While it may seem like a lot of time has passed since then and in part it felt like it too, it also doesn’t feel like not too long ago I was finally coming to terms with what had happened. Because of my delayed acknowledgement that what had occurred to me was indeed not okay, it still kind of feels like I’m not 100% over it, and that’s okay.

 

My therapist has reassured me that the traumatic effects from being sexually assaulted aren’t always present or healed after the incident itself. Thankfully my experience was not as traumatic as other individuals has been. But nonetheless, my mindset has changed a lot on different topics thanks to the event that occurred.

 

I have always struggled A LOT with my body. Internalized fatphobia, bullying as a child and living in a society that constantly picks at women’s bodies, along with other factors, have all been incredibly damaging to my self-esteem. Thanks to the pandemic and staying home, I’ve found myself looking and feeling a lot different than I did even before the pandemic began. While being raped is never a good thing, it’s at least helped me adopt a healthier mindset towards my body.

 

I was left with a scar on my leg from  being raped when it was scraping against the exposed metal somewhere in my beat-up truck. I have plenty of scars on my legs from when I was a child and just my overall minor injuries, but this one was different. It was permanent proof of what had happened and while not everyone who sees it will know what it’s from, I do.

 

Realistically, the scar is going nowhere. And there’s nothing I can do about that. But what I can do, is change my way of looking at it. Instead of seeing it as a reminder of an absolutely disgusting thing that happened, I’ve chosen to look at it as if it were a tattoo on my body. Much to my Hispanic parent’s dismay, I have 3 tattoos, and each have some sort of meaning behind them (albeit some better than others). Just like my tattoos, my scar has meaning to it. The scar on my leg isn’t a reminder of what someone did to me, but rather something that I went through and overcame. It’s a reminder of how much my body and I have been through; which was another game changer.

 

I began to think of my body as a shell that protects what’s inside, my thoughts, my feelings, etc. Once I began to think of my body in terms of the physical form of myself, not just all of me. I began to realize how irrelevant cosmetic issues were. I slowly realized that as much as I thought my worth and appreciation for my body was measured by a number on a scale or if whether or not I was perceived attractive by society, it’s not. In the end, my body is something that has and will  always be one of the few constants I have in my everchanging life. While it may not always look the same, it’s been with me since my creation and it’s been through a lot. It goes through the same changes I’ve gone through, and this is just change in a physical form. Despite all it has gone through and the years of neglect I put on my body’s wellbeing, it’s still pretty alive and well and for the most part, functioning like it’s supposed to. That in itself is a win in my book.