Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Survivor Love Letter

Dear Survivor of Sexual Abuse,

This Valentine's Day and every day, celebrate that you or a loved one, are a survivor of sexual abuse. Remind yourself that what happened is not your fault. You are better than what happened. You are loved. You are beautiful. You are enough. You are a survivor. You are a warrior. You are still here, still alive, still fighting for yourself and that makes you strong and worthy of everything good in this world. I hope you realize that it is okay to not be okay, and just as important to not stay there in those shitty moments. Keep making the choice to get back up and battle against your inner demons.

Make today the day you take a step towards healing. Try to answer the question, what does self-care mean to you? An article on Bustle speaks about Tani Ikeda's version of self-care that included writing her own Survivor Love Letter in 2015. She later created the #SurvivorLoveLetter hashtag on social media on Valentine's Day 2016, "to empower survivors of sexual violence." Simply search #SurvivorLoveLetter on any given social media site, and you'll see that it has taken the sites by love storm again today on the third anniversary. The world loves you, and knows that you are enough. Together we will prove that victim blaming is wrong. I hope that reading those messages on social media shows you that don't have to get through this alone.

If you feel up to it, I recommend reading a personal account of sexual abuse called Invisible Target: Breaking the Cycle of Educator Abuse by Andrea Clemens. She is a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a then-admired teacher and wrote this book to tell her story as part of her healing process and in the hopes of helping others with similar experiences. It is empowering, eye-opening, and raw. Clemens provides as many details as her memory allows, and commentary from her survivor, adult perspective looking back on what she went through during the many years of abuse. At the end of each chapter, she includes questions to help the reader reflect on the material and I am thankful for the opportunity she built in to her book to take a few moments to think about what she endured at the hands of her verbally abusive father and sexually abusive teacher. I don't know what I would have done if I were in her shoes or had heard from a friend in high school they were in a relationship with a teacher. I'd like to think I'd report it appropriately, but I really don't know if I would have done that as a teenager.

To my close friends and family members who are survivors, please know that while I do not know what it's like to be in your shoes, know that I love you and think of you as better than what happened. I do not see the sexual abuse or the resulting pain and heartache because I see the beautiful person you have always been and always will be. The amount of strength it takes you to get up everyday is astounding and inspiring. You fight every day against your demons and I am proud of you for choosing to keep battling. Every morning you choose to get up is a day that you are a winner. You are loved, you are enough, and you will always be better than what happened.

Sincerely,
Laura

2 comments:

  1. "You are loved and you are enough." Such beautiful words. It takes courage and love to address this topic. You did so with grace and humility!

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