An Open Letter to Sexual Assault Survivors

An Open Letter to Sexual Assault Survivors August 29, 2018
Image credit: Pixabay

Trigger Warning

It wasn’t your fault.

You were not complicit.

You weren’t complicit if you didn’t fight back.

You weren’t complicit if you went along with what an authority figure wanted.

You weren’t complicit if you didn’t report it.

You are never to blame.

It’s not a sin to do what you need to do to survive. Sometimes fighting back is dangerous. If you freeze up and go along with it, that’s a very normal reaction, and you’ve done nothing wrong. Our brains often can’t process what’s happening to us fast enough to react.

Silence is not consent. If you didn’t want it to happen, then it shouldn’t have happened.

Even if you were able to process what was happening, and you chose not to fight back out of a sense of self-preservation, you did nothing wrong. Your virginity or some sense of technical “purity” isn’t more valuable than you are. You are valuable. You are worth saving.

Some people say it’s better to be murdered than raped. Those people are spewing evil. Being a martyr to virginity isn’t the same as being a martyr for Christ. There is nothing about sexual assault that makes you impure. You are clean. There is no guilt on you. Anyone who says different is an idiot, and we don’t have to listen to idiots.

It’s not a sin to survive.

If a predator had authority over you, and you went along with him because of that authority, you’ve done nothing wrong. These people wield their power like a weapon and play psychological and spiritual games with innocent people. They know how to groom victims in ways that strip them of their ability to say, “No.”

They know how to groom entire communities too. They know how to make it unsafe for you to speak up. If you didn’t speak up about one of these predators, you were doing your best to survive an impossible situation. You carry no blame.

Maybe you didn’t realize it was abusive. Maybe he told you that you wanted it. Maybe he even convinced you of that. That isn’t your fault. It’s not a sin to be deceived by someone who’s manipulating you.

All of the guilt is on the person who assaulted you. They made that choice. They took your choice away in any number of ways.

You didn’t do anything to bring it on.

Your clothes didn’t cause it. Your age didn’t cause it. Your gender didn’t cause it. Your orientation didn’t cause it. Your body didn’t cause it. Your friendliness didn’t cause it. Your drinking didn’t cause it. Your sins didn’t cause it.

The predator caused it. Only him.

Nobody has the right to tell you how to handle what happened. Nobody has the right to pressure you to jump over the entire healing process to make them more comfortable. Nobody has the right to pressure you to forgive. Maybe you will forgive. That’s your call and nobody else’s. Coerced forgiveness isn’t forgiveness, anyway.

Maybe you’ll report. Maybe you won’t.

Maybe you’ll speak up. Maybe you won’t.

You don’t owe anyone anything.

You might report in the hopes of seeing justice done. You might want to hold this predator accountable in the hopes of preventing future abuse. Just know that if this predator assaults someone again, that is his fault and never yours. You are not responsible for the choices he makes.

You might be in a position where reporting or speaking up would be unhealthy for you. There is nothing wrong with that. You need to do what’s healthiest for you. Only you know if reporting would be more helpful or harmful, and I trust your judgment.

Nobody has the right to pressure you either way. Sexual assault is a loss of control. Nobody has the right to attempt to control how you respond. You control what you do next.

You are not alone.

Predators and their enablers want us to feel isolated. It’s easier for them to maintain control. But it’s a lie. You weren’t the only one.

I’m thankful you’re still here. I’m thankful you survived, whatever that survival may have looked like.

You are always in my heart and at my side.

You are never forgotten.

 

Note: Unsupportive comments on this post will be heavily moderated. I won’t endanger a survivor’s healing process so some random person who doesn’t understand trauma can add their two cents.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • DANIEL MARTINAT

    I’ve been there and after 42 years of silence I finally spoke up and have written about my experience and the years of damage done to myself and loved ones. And now I’m outspoken on the matter. No more silence. I pray for healing for all victims of abuse. You can and will survive with God’s help. I’m now a retired priest in the fall of my life. One day at a time. May God bless and keep you.

  • I normally disagree with you, but a big AMEN to this.

  • I’m so glad you’re at a point in your process where you can speak out. You’re so right. We take one day at a time.