Welcome back to another week of growth and healing. How is April treating you thus far? Okay for some...and by some we mean us included, it’s had its challenges.
“To be honest, I’ve had moments of weak-mindedness. I watched a film that spoke about sexual assault loosely—as if it its just a thing that happens. In brief, some characters laughed the matter off while others bragged that a man took advantage of young woman while she was intoxicated.
I unintentionally felt super irritated the rest of the evening (not knowing the exact source of my frustration at the time). I felt partially guilty for still feeling the way I felt. I felt defeated that I still cared that deeply; that even in a fictional movie I am brought back to thoughts of bitterness and less of empowerment. I say all that to say, we all have our moments...we all have stronger days than others. Please know, “feeling” strongly about something is not weakness; it’s a mirror to where we can allow healing to ensue, if we are brave enough to acknowledge its presence in our lives.” -DevinMarie
The same night I watched that film, I was on the phone with my friend. My silence suggested my feelings of discontent to which they asked, what it was that I needed. To be honest, I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure if I was overreacting or if it was even worth discussing. (Deep down, I knew what I was feeling was real, and if I wanted to invite REAL healing...I had to be real about the emotional pain I felt) as minuscule as it may seem.
After that conversation my friend asked if I wanted to pray. To which I replied with a stern “No,” only to feel immediately convicted. This feeling wasn’t God’s fault. The enemy was creeping up on an opportunity to hurt me where healing had the potential to be... my friend insisted we pray anyway. I agreed, and though I still remained silent, hand over my heart, I agreed with that prayer as we concluded in a heart-filled “amen.”
This week, we wanted to speak a little bit about what we can do to help someone who has been a victim of assault or how we can be stronger allies to anyone who is emotionally wounded from their past.
The frequency of sexual assault in our lives is unprecedented. As if the media hadn’t eluded enough, statistics provided by organizations like RAINN confirm that for every three women, one will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. One out of three; and these are only of the reported accounts! Imagine grouping the women you love all in a room together and have them stand side by side. Bring your aunties, mom, primas, best girlfriends, grandmas and imagine them standing shoulder to shoulder. Now imagine picking out one woman out of three; over and over again —those women you pulled out of line would have survived sexual assault...This isn’t even including the one out of eight men in our lives who are victims of this violence as well.
We must take into account the many others who don’t or who can’t speak out due to fear of retaliation, judgment, or isolation. The culture we have created normalizes sexual violence and sexual content of all kinds and seems it excusable so long as it’s for our entertainment. If someone has the courage to speak to you about their experience, you’ve been invited to a space of complete vulnerability. Listening is such a powerful gift; listening without judgement is even more reassuring to a survivor or anyone speaking on a sensitive matter such as sexual assault.
There is no “perfect way” to respond. Some responses that have reassured me were:
“That was an awful thing to have gone through, but thank you for sharing your story with me.”
“In the future, if you need someone to speak to, I’d like to be that listening-ear or support you in finding other helpful resources that can relate to your story.”
“I love you, and I’m glad that God kept you to get you to this point where you can actually talk about it.”
“I would have never imagined you going through something like that; but I’m grateful you survived; your bravery is commendable.”
Sometimes survivors just need to share their story. Sometimes they just need to be heard because at one point in their life, their experience and their voice held no merit in the eyes of the justice system, or another human who took advantage of them.
The enemy constantly attacks even after the attack. Many survivors have to fight off thoughts that warrant low self-esteem, lack of self-worth, and dark days. Never underestimate the power you have when the opportunity arises for a survivor to open up about something they’ve been shamed to conceal. Understand, that you don’t have to understand...we just ask that you be there when we show up.
With love and solidarity,
DevinMarie and Cristal Lowe
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