8 Things All Sexual Assault Survivors Need To Know

8 Things All Sexual Assault Survivors Need To Know

I want you to know that you are brave, beautiful, and worthy of love.

There are some things I wish I knew after I was attacked. I wish I knew simple facts and more complex things. I wish I knew how to take care of myself after the assault and how to open up to others. So, I'll share the things I think everyone should know about sexual assault and why they are important to me.

1. It's so hard to tell your family.

I don't care how close you are to your family, it's so very hard to tell anyone. I still haven't told my brother, my mother, or anyone honestly. My nan's husband knows vaguely and my boyfriend knows. That's it. I could never look my brother in the eyes and tell him what happened for fear he'd judge me. There was never a "good" time and there may never be a good time. Just know, they may not understand your struggles or why you do the things you do but they love you. No matter what. One day I'll tell my family what happened, but not today. Not until I'm ready.

2. You shouldn't be ashamed.

I couldn't talk to anyone because I felt so ashamed and felt like it was my fault. I felt like I had to hide it so I wouldn't be labeled as a whore. Survivors are always guilted and blamed for something they didn't do but know that you did NOTHING wrong. Your power can't be taken away by people who will never understand what you went through. Stroke that inner fire and don't let anyone put it out.

3. It's not your fault.

You're either lying or deserved "it." I'm here to tell you that people are wrong and insensitive. If it never happened to them, they won't understand. They don't know the anguish of being hurt like that and you hope that they never do. I promise you, it was not your fault.

4. It never goes away.

You hope they never know the pain you feel every.single.day. It's a pain that follows you in the happy moments, in the sad moments, and in every moment of your life. It may not be your forethought but it's there. You never forget, even when you beg to and try to scrape it out of your mind.

5. You need to tell someone, but only when you are ready.

I know how hard it is to open up to someone about it and it takes time, but make sure you do tell someone. It takes the burden off and helps you shoulder what happened to you. Make sure the person you tell is someone you trust, in a safe environment, because you can't predict what will happen when you begin to let it out.

6. No one can tell you whether to prosecute or not.

For me, it was too late but maybe for you it isn't. Make sure it's what you want to do. You should never feel forced to do anything again. It's your choice and there isn't a right or wrong decision because it only matters what is mentally and emotionally good for you.

7. You can be sexually assaulted, even in a relationship.

I know this from personal experience. I'm sure the boy who hurt me doesn't even realize he coerced me into doing things I didn't want to, leading up to ignoring my no's. All because we were in a relationship. Instead, my no's meant "I was playing hard to get." I wasn't and I hope he see's the error in his ways. I hope he isn't doing it to someone else and that's a fear I battle in my sleepless nights.

8. You will heal.

It's been a long journey and I know that I've come a long way. In my relationship with my current boyfriend, I don't freak out at the littlest touches or certain words anymore but I haven't gotten to the point where I don't think about the way his hand is touching my neck and where fear doesn't creep into my mind because of it. I may not be whole yet, and I maybe never be, but I know one day I'll overcome the worst thing to ever happen to me. I have hope for myself and for all other suvivors out there.

Please seek help if you have been sexually assaulted.

Sexual assault is a terrible thing but there are things everyone should know even if you weren't the victim. Don't force them to tell you or touch you without permission. You don't call them names or let others make them feel guilty. You protect them but most of all, you love them because that is all they really need.

And for you, I want you to know that you are brave and beautiful. I want you to know that you are worthy of love.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Literally, so hot RN

Literally, so hot RN

Millennials Need To Get Over The Stigma Behind STDs

They're not as uncommon as you think.

Recently, I had a friend text me in a frenzied panic looking for advice. She'd been going through a typical Saturday when she received a text from a health clinic alerting her that an anonymous sexual partner would like to inform her about putting her at potential risk for a sexually transmitted disease, or STD. Suddenly, her world seemed to close in, and she felt lost in how to proceed.

Only a month before her, I had another friend experience the exact same situation. In fact, throughout my time at college, I have witnessed several friends find themselves worrying about the possibilities of a STD. None of these friends matched the stereotypes of someone with an STD: they didn't sleep around, they did their best to use protection, and they weren't "gross." Yet, the stigma surrounding STDs awakened a feeling of disgust in each of themselves, and they felt like they'd done something wrong.

Some of my friends felt embarrassed to even seek medical treatment, because they thought the nurses and doctors would look down upon them. Other friends pondered the extreme possibilities of their situation: what if it wasn't curable? What if it was AIDS? How would they tell their parents? All these questions, all this fear, stemmed heavily from the social stigma surrounding STDs.

Sure, it can be said that some of the fear of having an undiagnosed STD exists in not knowing what the STD actually is. This uncertainty is undoubtedly scary, but much of the fear actually forms from negativity that surrounds the idea of the STD. People perceive it as dirty, bad, and something caught by only the most promiscuous. However, this notion is false. Unless you are completely abstinent, you put yourself at risk for an STD.

The fact that social stigma pushes so many people to literally dread medical treatment due to anxiety over the perception of an STD speaks to the miseducation of society about these diseases. One in four Americans has an STD, which translates to roughly 110 million people. These 110 million people do not all encounter the same situation. Some people don't have any signs or symptoms. Others don't know any types of STDs beyond syphilis, or herpes, or HIV/AIDS. But each of these 110 million people is afflicted by something and should not possess any uneasiness over seeking medical treatment.

Without medical treatment, STDs can cause heart disease, brain damage, problems with fertility, cancer, or even death. People unknowingly pass them on, and it creates a potential continuous cycle of disease spreading. These diseases have the potential to affect everyone, and it's important to realize the reality of STDs in order to erase the fear people possess over seeking help or talking about the issue at hand.

In order to stop the stigma, people need to acknowledge the facts behind STDs and begin to educate themselves further. Stop associating words like dirty, gross, and bad with STD and start recognizing it as something much more common in the lives of Americans today. Paying attention to stereotypes and dissuading them helps to create a more welcoming environment for those seeking help with an STD. Similarly, offering help to friends worried about their possibility of having an STD lessens the anxiety that surrounds the idea. Stop playing into the stigma; instead, work to destroy it.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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Why I Had A Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy At Age 20

I am a pre-survivor, a previvor.

Over eight months ago I discovered a weird growth on my left nipple. I never thought anything of it because it never hurt. Back in December, I randomly woke up with it bleeding, discolored, and my nipple inverted.

I went to the doctor to get this checked out and she had no idea what it could be and referred me to a breast surgeon. The breast surgeon was then prompted to think that it was Paget’s disease (nipple cancer) and performed a wedge biopsy. I had four stitches on my left nipple. The results for this took 11 days and came back benign.

After discovering that both my grandmother and great grandmother had had breast cancer my surgeon decided to have genetic testing done on me. My results were sent to Colorado and were supposed to take 35 days to get back.

I received my results after just eleven days and I came back positive for having a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. After meeting with multiple surgeons and doctors, I decided to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy with breast reconstruction done on March 4th, 2017.

I consider myself lucky enough to have caught this when I did and am grateful I took the initiative to combat this problem before it could have killed me in the future. Some people don't realize how fast breast cancer can develop.

I read a story about a women that found herself BRCA1 positive like myself and this women decided to have the same surgery as me done. However, when this lady went in for her surgery she had a blood clot and the surgeons would not perform her surgery. A month later, this women had stage 4 breast cancer and ended up passing away.

I am sharing my story in hopes to raise awareness and hope and pray that by someone reading my story they can take initiative before breast cancer has the opportunity to take their body over down the road. I am extremely blessed and beyond grateful for all of the love and support I have received so far. This has been a rough journey so far without a doubt and will continue to be, but I know that I will push through it to recover better than ever and knowing I will never have to worry about having breast cancer in the future is the greatest feeling ever.

Cover Image Credit: Johnna Lorraine

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