Survivor Offers Support To Sexual Assault Victims, ‘You Are Not Broken’

Janella Luna Hollows, A Column

Most people tend to think that it is some stranger in an alley or some creep at a bar. While those things do happen, that was not the case for me. I have been sexually assaulted multiple times throughout my life.
It first started when I was 5-years-old and would go to my father’s house. No, it was not my dad. He is not a perfect man, but he is also not a monster. My cousins used to touch me when I was asleep. This would happen every single time I went over there. I was so little at the time that I thought it was normal.
A few years later when I was 7-years-old, I was raped by my camp counselor. Sadly, I still did not know what any of it meant, so I told my mom (may she rest in peace.) She cried, cursed and held me. All I did was wipe her tears and tell her not to be sad. My mother never told me what any of it meant.
It was not until I was older, and had been raped by a now ex-boyfriend, that I fully processed all of it while sitting in his car swallowing a Plan B and wishing I were dead. Why did it happen to me?
People are always saying, “Do not leave your drinks uncovered. Do not wear anything too revealing and stay in groups.” I always thought these sentiments were bulls*&%$ because I had the unfortunate displeasure of knowing the truth.
Rape is not about what you are wearing or what you are doing. It is about power, motive, and opportunity. For my cousins, it was trauma as they were young. However, the camp counselor and my ex-boyfriend felt entitled to my body–they felt entitled to take something that is not theirs.
Everyone gives you advice on how to avoid it, and they give you the stats. Yet, no one tells you the aftereffects or how to survive them. Well, I will tell you, or at least tell you what it is like for me.
Afterwards sucks. You feel dirty, ashamed, and you feel used. You just had the most private part of yourself violated. Most are left open and exposed; you are fearful. What if it happens again? Do you report it? Will they believe you?
An important thing to know is that you did nothing wrong. You have nothing to be ashamed about; they do. It sucks, believe me I know, but first you have to breathe.
Next, pinch yourself. I know it sounds silly, but pinch yourself. Do this because afterwards you will feel dysphoric as if you are not real. Feeling something else will help you start to come back. Most importantly, you must report! I cannot stress this enough.
If you do not report for you, report for another person. If they feel comfortable enough to do this to you, they will not have a problem doing it to someone else. This is something to take into consideration.
I am not here to lie; it is going to be rough. You are going to have trauma, be wary of people in your life, and you will never get your innocence back. What you can do, however, is live your life because they do not own you. You are not broken. There is nothing wrong or dirty about you.
It is not perfect advice, but it is what has gotten me through. The nights of tears, the PTSD when I am touched a certain way, the insomnia. I am not perfect, but I leave you with this: Remind yourself of who you were before it happened because that person is still there, and most importantly get help.
There is nothing wrong with therapy. Rape is not something that you just get over, so do not be afraid to reach out. It is something that happened to you, but it is not you.