'M TIRED OF the isolation of survivors.
Every day we hear how 1 in 6 women are sexually assaulted, and 1 in 33 men are too. We hear the statistics:
73 precent of rapes are perpetrated by someone the survivor knows.
We live in a society that creates victims rather than survivors. We create a society that makes survivors feel helpless after the fact, a society that doesn’t help.
Numbers come in and out, numbers tell us what to fear. These statistics keep the real, breathing, heart-beating survivors trapped in obscurity. We know the numbers, but not the faces. Countless survivors share their stories in acts of bravery and others never can--the world doesn’t always want to know the real, down-in-the-dirt, cold hard facts of the matter. Rape exists, and survivors live on every day carrying what we’re told should be a secret.
Survivors are a group- the people you see on the subway and walking down the road and you’d never know unless there was a sign on their forehead, or they told you. Unlike women and people of color, you can’t just look at us and know what society says we are. There is nothing like “gay-dar,” for survivors. There is no stereotype on how we should act, because we are expected to assimilate from the start. Many groups fight the assimilation of an oppressive culture, yet survivors, who have just as unique an experience as any group, don’t have this option.
I’m tired of this isolation, assimilation, and shame. I’m tired of people looking the other way when they talk about sexual assault, sick of people tip-toeing around calling someone out for being a rapist. I’m tired of not telling people about being a survivor, and not expressing how proud we should be of having survived in the first place.
I’m tired of people being called victims. Victims are helpless and alone. We live in a society that creates victims rather than survivors. We create a society that makes survivors feel helpless after the fact, a society that doesn’t help. We create a world where we tell survivors that their experience is shameful, they should feel awful for this reason or that, rather than telling survivors that they can move on and that their attacker should and will experience the shame.
I’m sick and tired of a world that allows for survivors to continue being attacked even after the instance. I’m furious at this world that gives women rules on how to not get raped, rarely tells men to not rape, and then creates a stance that if the “rules” aren’t followed, it’s the survivor's fault. I’m furious at a society that says men can’t be victimized and women can’t rape. I’m tired of this world creating a safe-haven for post-traumatic stress disorder to develop. I’m tired of a world allowing for traumas to be held in so long that the survivor eventually breaks.
Survivors are questioned by the cops and blamed for the acts committed against them. We are joked about, we are tip-toed around. But the subject changes when a survivor tells their story.
The people in the room often don’t look at them the same again.
When we develop post-traumatic stress disorder, rape trauma syndrome, or a myriad of other mental difficulties due to the attack, we are discriminated against in the workforce, education, and social settings should these institutions discover our "issues".
Survivors are told that their experience is invalid for a myriad of reasons. They are shamed, beaten, and abused by family members and friends who are too weak to deal with the subject. Survivors are told that they will never again have normal relationships, that they are homosexual if they’re attacked by someone of the same sex, and that they can never fully experience the joys of consensual sex.
Survivors are told how to deal with their problems without their opinion having any matter. Survivors are continually harassed or attacked by the perpetrator and live in a society that never quite gives a damn. Survivors are ignored because of their reputation, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, intoxication level, mental background and sex. Survivors are just ignored. Survivors watch the world around them perpetuate a system that creates sexual assault.
I’m tired of watching this silence whir around me and others like me. I’m tired of meeting loved ones too ashamed to tell anyone but me, tired of watching loved ones cry, waiting for the right time to come out. When will we stop telling survivors to be ashamed of being attacked? When will we stop pretending assault never happens? When will we band with survivors to get rapists out of the picture? When will we stop telling survivors how helpless they are, when we can actually help? When will we stop being afraid to defend our loved ones, the survivors in our community, the people we see on the street? When will we stop telling survivors to keep in their secrets, or stop saying that they may never find love, or that they can never have a functional life after the fact?
Survivor Solidarity continues...