Our Experiences: Surviving Sexual Assault

      There is an average of 237,868 victims of sexually assault each year in the US. The complexity in this statistic is haunting and hidden by silence. Victims learn to be silent by their abusers, family, friends, media and society. Silence is what keeps the violence alive. Many hold this secret in for years or only tell the people they are closest to. For those who have taken the legal route, this is a difficult process of retelling their stories and having to see and hear their abusers when 97% of rapists will never spend a day in Jail. As survivors, we have experienced shame, guilt, isolation, pain, etc. Our past has effected our relationships with others as well as our own body. Our body, a place to explore our own sexuality and become comfortable in our own skin but instead it was taken away. Our bodies became the battlefields, it lead to eating disorders, cutting, substance abuse, it became the only thing we could control. Despite these feelings, I see us as strong individuals. We are warriors, a battle of a life time that will be with us forever. Although these tragic experiences will be carried with us, they do not define us.

      The stories told are the ultimate truth, they show the flaws of the legal system, the devastating after effects, the struggles of speaking out and the vulnerability of seeing the abuser. Each survivor has a unique story but as a whole we see the change that needs to happen.

      I started this series as a way of healing through my own sexual abuse story. I felt silenced, trapped, apart of this epidemic. I became too comfortable and accepting of violence against women. After years of retelling my story to new friends, boys, teachers, other survivors, or lying to school counselors and police officers I have decided to take a stand against sexual violence and to end the silence.

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