She had done nothing wrong
and she waited for assurance of that fact.
She waited for the chance to speak,
to have others know the truth.
She worried she had done something wrong,
worried it was somehow her fault,
worried she had not done enough,
worried she had done too much.
When she began to tell others,
nobody gave her all the assurance,
but they shared in her truth;
good ones carried the truth alongside her.
I’ve previously discussed my experience of surviving abusive people, in my pieces “I have always been worthy.” and “subtle poisons”. While my healing journey from abuse began over a decade ago, this past year has been particularly rich in new progress. From the day in 2006 that I broke up with the guy who had been abusing me, I began to plant seeds of love for myself. Some of these seeds took a while to sprout. Some had to be hidden from other abusers in my life. But now, with more healthy and safe people in my life, there is room for many healing flowers to bloom.
This piece discusses my healing progress as a survivor of sexual abuse. Clarification of terminology, as well as links to further information and support resources, are provided in the "Definitions and Support Resources" box below.
Definitions and Support Resources
It is the decision of each person who has experienced sexual violence to personally identify how they choose (victim, survivor, etc.) Each person has the right to share their story if, when, and to the extent they choose.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual act done by one person to another. Sexual assault is never OK and if it’s happened to you, know it’s not your fault.
- quote from the article: "What is sexual assault?" by Kids Help Phone (Canada)
What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is any sexual behavior that is unwanted and that is carried out without consent from both partners. While force or coercion is usually involved, any kind of pressure is still considered sexual abuse. This may also include trying to control your own decisions about your sexuality and reproductive rights.
- quote from the article: "What Does Teen Dating Abuse Look Like?" by the State of New York (USA)
What is force?
Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.
- quote from the article: "Sexual Assault" by RAINN (USA)
What is consent?
Consent is defined as a voluntary agreement to do something. When it comes to sex (e.g. mutual masturbation, oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex, sexting, other intimate contact, etc.), it’s important for everyone involved to give/receive enthusiastic consent. Enthusiastic consent means everyone is into what’s happening, and shows they’re ready through words and actions. Establishing enthusiastic consent before and throughout sexual activity means everyone is on the same page and having fun together. Remember, if consent is not given by everyone involved, it’s sexual violence.
- quotes from the article: "Consent: What it is and why it's important" by Kids Help Phone (Canada)
Some resources for information and support:
I have always been worthy. Yet, when I was growing up there were two main factors that kept me from seeing the full extent of my worth. The chaotic neighbourhood I resided in for over a decade negatively impacted my formation of self. Then, from age fourteen to fifteen, I was abused by the guy I was dating. Growing up, I only had pockets of empathy around me, deep wells were elsewhere. I was grateful for visits to those wells as they provided essential rest and hope for me in my darkest seasons. I am grateful that wells of empathy have become far more abundant in my adult life. And I now feel worthy.
a reflection for today, September 10th, World Suicide Prevention Day.
suicidal thoughts are complex and suicide has the potential to affect anyone - no matter someone’s diagnosis (or lack of one), age, socioeconomic situation, or education level. we’re all human. we all need other people. and sometimes we need help from trusted mental health professionals. it’s okay to not be okay. it’s okay to ask for help. it’s okay to be human.
the earliest memory I have of suicide touching my life was the death of a classmate when I was in grade eight. but the importance of a support system only became apparent to me in high school; as some of those close to me and I faced challenges far beyond our years, we found having a few key people to open up to (including one another, trusted adults, and counsellors) made things a bit better.