I have stood where you stand. Found my voice held in my throat as I tried to come to terms with what happened to me. And I know that some days you can’t think of anything else, that it seems as if the memories might swallow you whole before you learn how to breathe again. But there are good days, too. There are days when the pain is nothing but a distant recollection, a bad moment that you can forget, while looking at the future ahead. Hold on to that. Even in the deepness of your sorrow, hold on to the possibility of another good day.
Speak about things that aren’t important. The weather and the seasons and anything that doesn’t take too much effort. Then, when you are ready, talk about the things that are important to you; music, art, politics, religion. Find your voice somewhere in it all. Find the voice you were scared you had lost but was only just waiting until you came back to it. And when you find it, start to talk about what happened. Talk to someone you love and who loves you, about how you survived. How you kept breathing, and speaking, and living in spite of the sadness, in spite of the memories.
Soon the hard days will spread out, there won’t be so many of them anymore. Time has the ability to take away the edge of pain. And when you reach the day of the year it happened, it will still hurt and you’ll still remember. It will feel like it just happened. But you found your voice and your support. And you know now that you survived and will continue to survive. Soon the day will pass, and the week, and the month.
There is help, too. 24/7 crisis hotlines like ours (937-222-SAFE) that always have a voice on the other end to listen, or advocates who are trained to come to the hospital, the court room, or just sit with you in silence. Counselors who will help you navigate this new landscape and support groups with others who will understand you in a way no one else will. You are not alone. Even when you feel so impossibly small and invisible, know that you are not alone.
Your voice is there and strong and brave. You are a survivor, and I promise, you will survive.
With all the strength I can give,
Sexual Assault Program Educator, YWCA Dayton
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Follow us all month long @ywcadayton for ways to give support, get help, and stand up for survivors. #30daysofSAAM