“We endure so much more than we think we can, all human experience testifies to that. All we need to do is learn not to be afraid of the pain. Grit your teeth and let it hurt. Don’t deny it, don’t be overwhelmed by it. It will not last forever. One day the pain will be gone and you’ll still be here.”
― Harold Kushner
Sexual assault, rape and domestic violence can be a very uncomfortable conversation to have, so much so that it’s almost taboo to bring up. People will suffer in silence, all for the comfortability of those they love. But it shouldn’t have to be this way. I will not share my story today (that’s another post for another time); however, I will share some statistics, give my personal pieces of advice and words of encouragement.
Here are the facts:
According to RAINN.org, there is an average of 293,066 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault every year. This means that every 107 seconds another person is being sexually assaulted. Additionally, according to futureswithoutviolence.org, 1 out of 5 students experience rape or sexual assault while they are in college. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 68% of sexual assaults are left unreported, making it one of the most under reported crimes in the nation. These statistics are incredibly alarming, and reminds us all that we must be safe and promote awareness in order to facilitate prevention.
I encourage anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault or domestic violence to go to the authorities. You may feel ashamed or embarrassed, but that should not be your emotion to feel; it should be his (or hers). As a survivor, it is so important for you to take legal action against attackers, because if they would harm you they won’t hesitate to harm someone else. Remember that you can go about this process at your own pace and when you’re ready, as slow or as fast as you feel comfortable with. It is a challenging, emotional roller coaster, and you may feel like you don’t have the time right now or you don’t want the attention. But when you are ready, when you feel stronger and more secure, seek the help of some professionals. Unless you get help, the negative feeling within you will never leave; it will be there when your career is taking off, it will hang over your shoulder when and will haunt you the next time a good person tries to love you. Trying to simply put it in a closet and forget will not serve you or your mental health well.
Though it may feel that you’re enduring your pain all alone and no one understands, believe me when I say that this is far from the truth. There is a community of women that are or have been where you are. Women, Black women in particular, are taught from birth to stick by and protect their men. But if your partner has harmed you verbally or physically, this person DOES NOT love you. No matter what they say or what they buy you when it’s all over. Please know that this person means you no good and to escape of that toxic relationship before it kills you.
There are people who dedicate their life to helping survivors just like you, please take advantage of them. If you’re reading this and know a survivor, be there for them and listen to them. DO NOT ask them why they was there in the first place, DO NOT ask if how much they had to drink, DO NOT question what they were wearing, DO NOT pressure them to tell their parents or call the police (they may not be ready yet, and that is something you must understand). No judgement or questions are needed, just listen and be a friend.
Be free to feel your pain, confusion, anger and any other emotion, but know that these feelings do not have to last forever. You can feel them, cry, scream and do whatever else you need to do and that is perfectly okay. You will only get stronger and stronger, I assure you. Below I will include some outlets where you can talk about whatever it is that you’ve experienced anonymously and confidentially. Stay strong and be safe, I promise it gets better.
FAMU Police Department: 850-599-3256 | National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4763) | Rape, Assault & Incest National Network (RAINN) online chat: online.rainn.org | The National Domestic Violence Hotline online chat: www.loveisrepect.org; or text hotline: text (“loveis” to 22522).