In my experience, I have found that *often* as a sexual assault survivor, you’re having to stand up for why it was wrong. No matter how cut and dry the facts are. Even when a stranger reached up my skirt and grabbed my vagina in public (which was on a surveillance camera!), after I talked about it publicly, I had a man write to me and tell me how much he was sure I liked that.
In my experience, you are always fighting a million narratives whether it be any version of “you know how boys are,” or “boys will be boys,” or whether it be something about how “you should’ve done more,” or “you shouldn’t have been in that place at the time” or you “shouldn’t have ‘led someone on’,” or “you shouldn’t have worn that”… or whether it be people trying to tell you that “you’re not actually upset about being assaulted. You’re upset that your relationship didn’t work out” [or whatever other reaons], or whether it be a harmful narrative I didn’t mention here – I feel like you are consistently fighting all the time to explain why your pain is valid, or why your struggles are real…
And then there are days I’m super okay. And it’s not everyday. But it’s some days. And sometimes it’s many days. That’s the whole goal, right? To be 100% okay again – to feel normal, to be able to have healthy relationships, to feel like yourself, to be able to experience the world without a lot of fear or distraction…
The goal is to be okay! To be happy!
And sometimes, I almost feel, I suppose maybe like, a guilty sort of feeling for being okay.
Almost as like, if I actually get through this – if I’m actually 100% okay does that mean these people making misogynistic arguments were right all along? That I’m just some “hysterical woman,” and after I’ve “calmed down,” *of course* it’s all okay, since it wasn’t a big deal in the first place?
But, of course that’s not how it actually is…
I practically never think about open-heart surgery anymore. And when I *do* talk about it because it’s relevant to some conversation about healthcare or something, I don’t re-live it. It doesn’t feel painful to recount it. I can talk about it like I can any story from my life.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big deal. It was a HUMONGOUS deal that turned my life upside down. It affected every facet of my life. And recovery is hard. It used to hurt just to *sit up*. (And I don’t mean like a workout sit-up, I mean, like turn the incline on your hospital bed up to be in sitting position.) Everything hurt.
But I don’t have to spend the whole rest of my life being upset about it or crying that it affected my life in order to make it “real.” It just is real.
And sexual assault is *just* as real.
But trying to move forward feels different. When the world acknowledges your problem (almost too much – I had the opposite problem last time of people being so focused on the awfulness of my health issues), it’s soooooo much easier to be like, “Nah, I got this.”
But when you’re fighting for your struggle to be validated, overcoming it doesn’t feel quite as empowering. Because to the people who don’t believe you, or don’t take the issue seriously, you’re just “being what you should’ve been this whole time.” They may even think you’re proving their awful views right – that if you can recover, it didn’t matter in the first place.
Anyway, I’m repeating myself now, but it’s just a different weird feeling. But ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if some people get it wrong when it comes to attitudes about assault. You’re allowed to be okay. And it is still recovery. And it is still amazing. And it still is empowering.
It’s okay to be okay again. After all, that’s the dream!