We can no longer turn a blind eye to the realities or survivors and their stories of sexual assault. Whether you’ve heard of these stories via mass media or from someone close in your life; the truth hurts and is all too often concealed. Surviving such an experience, fosters feelings of fear, shame, guilt, or self-blame(sentiments Cristal and myself know all too well). Without the immense support from loved ones and the healing from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our stories wouldn’t have been shared; and Herstory may not have been created. We are grateful to share in a platform that allows us to share stories and ask questions including the question we are presenting for this week’s blog post.
How was the term sexual assault introduced to you? It goes without saying that many cultures and societies fixate a lot of their media and marketing around sexually implied rhetoric and images. The whole “sex sales” sentiment says a lot about the way mass media outlets feel towards the subject. Hence, why rape culture is so prominent and easily dismissed in conversations for having any influence on the way we interact as human beings. Generally speaking, the general populace can acknowledge rape, assault, abuse, and harassment are “bad”...yet these acts continue to happen; and at an alarming rate.
A recent article from the Huffpost speaks on 30 shocking statistics the general populace may not be familiar (https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_58e24c14e4b0c777f788d24f )including; the 13% of female rape survivors who will attempt suicide.
“I was that 13%...more than once. I experienced moments of complete helplessness, whether it was sitting at my bedroom desk with pills I collected around the house, contemplating whether I should take them or sitting on my bathroom floor with a broken razor thinking a body with no oxygen would be better. That is only a broken piece of the days I lived thinking my breath was not worth taking if I had to feel broken, alone, abused, and unworthy, every single day.
I opened up to a few people in my life I trusted about what happened, but I always ended the conversation with "PLEASE DON'T TELL ANYONE." Until one night, when I could no longer breathe, feeling like I was gasping for my last breath and crying my eyes out thinking "this is it... I'm going to do this" when suddenly a good friend of mine, Mr. Bell reached via telephone.
It was in that moment, on the verge of me completely giving up, I knew it was GOD; and that there was a GOD who cared about me who wanted me alive for His glory." I broke down and told him of what I had endured and what was about to happen. Even though he was miles away, I felt his support even after I said "DON'T TELL ANYONE.” He replied, “Stop! You are beautiful, anyone would be so lucky to be with you, rape does not define who you are. Instead, you will define what you make rape to appear." A flow of tears fell from my eyes as he continued to speak, offering to call my house and talk to my parents. Although, I asked him not to because I was not ready to tell them, GOD used him to help me realize someone does care, and I wasn’t crazy.
"What happened to you was serious, but You can make a difference," he said. “...you would just be another girl who committed suicide without a story to tell; without people knowing the true reason of what happen to you." That was the night my friend saved my life, when I made the decision that some how, some way, I need to find recovery, and relief from this burden and not just cover it up or run from it. My story didn’t end there.
More than anything, I needed GOD to help me overcome so I can help other victims become victors. The moral of this story is that we can be solution to someone else’s problem; even if the matter doesn’t concern you. We can help a victim by saying "I believe you" or simply just saying "I stand with you through all of this, the best way I can."
The subject of sexual assault breeds many questions, including ones, survivors ask of themselves like “What did I do? What did I say? Or other victim-blaming questions like “was it because of what I wore?"
We are often asked what the “right thing” to say or ask in a situation like this, especially if it’s in response to someone close to you. Honestly, there are no “perfect or right” answers to such questions, but some that have helped us include loved one’s asking: "How can I help you, how can be a better support system for you? Is there any thing you need? Tell me how you feel? What are your thoughts/ how is your mind? Do you feel safe to go back to work/ school? How can I help you feel more safe? Or Statements like...”I believe you, and you don't have to stand alone or I'll go with you to make a report or help you do research on filing a restraining order,” have encouraged Devin and myself throughout our journey towards self-actualization and loving ourselves towards our healing.
I could easily carry on about statements or questions I wish weren’t asked of me after being assaulted, but I thank God for the one friend Mr. Bell who had the courage to speak value into my life. Someone who stands out to this day as being an ally, and a friend when I didn’t have anyone to turn to in one of the most difficult seasons of my life.
Sexual assault doesn’t have to be the end of your story. We encourage you to continue to follow ours as we learn, reshape, mold and grow into the women God intended us to be, no longer victims but SURVIVORS.
If you feel this series or blog could help to encourage someone you know and love. Please share in the love and encouragement that can always be found here at Herstory.
With love and solidarity,
Cristal Lowe and Devin Marie 💕
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