Choosing To Be A Survivor
April is sexual assault awareness month or SAAM, and I’ve been seeing posters around campus saying “Consent is hot, rape is not.”
The poster is effective because it makes you stop and think. It did for me, anyway.
I’m a survivor, not a victim, of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The month of April is special to me, because it gives me a voice that has been silenced far too long. The hard reality of this is I’m not alone. One in four women and one in six men are assaulted in their lifetime, according to SAAM. Very few are ever reported.
The long-term effects of this type of violence are mind altering. When traumatic experiences happen to an individual, our response is stress-related behavior. Sometimes these behaviors will fade over time, and sometimes they linger. This stress turns into psychological disorders such as PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety and more.
Though my traumatic events happened earlier in life, the long-term stress has had its effect on me. I had trouble sleeping, heart palpitations, nightmares and panic attacks. These feelings were beginning to poke into my daily life, and before I knew it, they had full control over me.
I began to fear things I never feared before. I noticed I was doing ritualistic things to prevent my anxiety. Emotional pain had nothing on physical pain, because the internal feeling was similar to isolation because you can’t see the pain.
It got to a point where I needed help to start my journey of recovery. I found that ASU offered counseling services. Part of me hated the idea of going in and telling a complete stranger about the graphic things that had happened. But I was at my wits end and had no other choice. I was recommended to schedule time with a life coach at the Concho Valley Rape Crisis Center.
After a few months of therapy and coaching, I felt empowered to go out and take over the world. It was the first time in a long time I could walk outside and not feel the negative emotions. College has helped a lot with healing. I understand now how my brain works and how to process thoughts.
No one should have to live in fear because of another individual’s actions. There are many resources to get help and take the path to recovery. One of my favorites, #NOMORE, is a campaign to end sexual and domestic violence.