April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month(SAAM)- and April 5th is SAAM Day of Action. To show support of victims and survivors of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse be sure to wear teal.
Why teal? The color teal symbolizes trust, devotions, and healing – all of which play an important role in SAAM.
Chances are someone in your life is a survivor of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse, even if they have never shared their story with you. Show your support for survivors of sexual harassment and abuse by wearing teal — the color of sexual violence prevention — on April 5th and post a selfie to Twitter or Instagram using #SAAM2022. By wearing teal, you are signaling that you support survivors and are a safe person to talk to if they need to reach out.
Here's some supportive words to help a survivor of sexual abuse:
I believe you.
I am here for you.
I am sorry that this happened to you.
How can I help support you?
We will get through this together!
1 out of 6 women in the U.S. experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime.
1 out of 4 men in the U.S. experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
About half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance.
Sexual assault and other sexual heinous acts can and does go under reported and misreported. False reports account for about 10% of all sexual assault/rape reportings. In pop culture, media has shed light on cases where a false report has done damage (Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, numerous TV shows such as Law and Order have highlighted such cases). While these false reportings do damage reputations, there is even more to be said about actual assault/rape victims who do not report and choose to report it much after the act has occurred.
I can recall in 2016 when the hashtag Me Too movement started picking up traction, I remember thinking why are these women, and men, just now speaking out on something that happened years and some decades ago, if they were so upset by it. Almost one year later I would completely eat those words...
What many do not understand about trauma is that it does not impact everyone the same. Think about children who experience abuse, both physical and sexual, they do not always report is as a child. They oftentimes do not come forward until much later in life, many of them act out as a child or adolescent, and sadly many turn towards substances/alternative lifestyles in order to cope. No different from an adult who is assaulted and/or abused. In high school and college I met many friends and acquaintances who were not only sexually assaulted as a young child, many of them as a prepubescent child, but also raped.
Having gotten through all my childhood, college, and the first 6 years of my 20's and had never experienced rape, assault, or harassment, I assumed I was somehow "off the hook".
Now that's not to say that I never experienced trauma, but never in that capacity.
It was March 11, 2017 a regular Friday night where I casually, as I did often, went to the home of the person I was dating after being out all night with my friends. Little did I know, what was I thought was going to be a normal night for me, would traumatize me for years to come.
That night I was the victim of sexual assault and attempted rape by the friend of a man I was dating.
It was the most violating and disrespectful experience of my life. I did not feel protected by the person I was dating. I was honestly in a complete state of shock. So much so that I didn't even tell but one soul, not even my mother, until recently.
In my case I can only be "grateful" that I was able to walk away from that experience with no physical harm done, as many women and men often do, however mentally it changed me forever. For a long time I did not tell anyone, but one of my close friends, and I made it very clear this was something I did not want to think or talk about ever again and for a good while I did not.
Because this happened in 2017, the year I embarked on my entrepreneur journey, I was able to throw myself into my business and clients and never looked back, well until the shutdown of 2020 when I really had no choice but to think about everything in my mind, including the traumas and experiences I kept pushing to the back of my mind. During this time it almost made me resent my business because it represented something that came directly from that trauma.
It was my personal decision to not bring attention to this by filing a police report nor by broadcasting this on social media and tagging my assailant, as I see many do, which for them may be therapeutic and brave. But for me I did not want to be looked at as a victim, I also did not want to relive this experience in any way. Everything you try to hide from does later catch up with you. And I now understand why so many of the Me Too women and men chose to speak up much later in life. Ignoring trauma and pushing through it is a type of coping mechanism and I can definitely attest to that being a great way to self-sooth. However unhealed sexual abuse can and will show its ugly disgusting head in your healing journey and in your relationships, especially intimate ones. Initially I didn't think I was impacted by that experience (beyond feelings of self-blame, guilt, viewing my body as tarnished, and disgust for that individual), but as time went on I realized it did alter the way I viewed intimacy, speaking on sex especially on social media, and my own body. It took way more time for me to feel comfortable to even hug someone, cuddle with someone, or even be intimate, I am still conflicted with these today.
As many of you may know I am of course in therapy and there are times when it's still hard to speak to my therapist about this. But in the past month it's been ten times more therapeutic to share this experience with my closest friends and family members. Even more, I recently posted my most helpful therapy thus far, my tattoo! This tattoo and sharing it with my friends on and off line has been such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, I feel as though I have gone from victim to survivor to thriving and I could not be more thankful of the feedback and overwhelming from many who care about me and many who are investing my life. I appreciate it more than you all know.
I am still healing from this, but the beautiful thing is that I have been able to have a larger circle around me to help me on my journey to feeling whole again. What I am mostly looking forward to is being a voice for children and adults who have experienced sexual violence of any form. And if you are reading this and have experienced this, know that
-you are no one's damn victim!
-you are a survivor!
-what happened to you is not your fault.
-this is not a reflection of who you are.
-your body belongs to you!
-you are worthy and deserving of healing and love.
The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), organizes the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline. The Hotline is a referral service that can put you in contact with your local rape crisis center. You can call the Hotline at 1-800-656-4673, or access RAINN’s online chat service.
1in6 offers a wide range of information and services for men with histories of unwanted or abusive sexual experiences, and anyone who cares about them. Some of the organization's resources include: A 24/7 online helpline where men and the people who care about them can chat one-on-one with a trained advocate and free and confidential weekly online support groups. Visit https://1in6.org/ for more.
To find a local resource visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center local resource page.
Head over to my Youtube Channel for this video and more!