Screaming in silence. Exposed, yet invisible. Vulnerable but guarded. We hear you.
Sexual abuse affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime, but it is not bound by gender alone. In fact, sexual violence occurs in all populations regardless of gender identity, race-ethnicity, age or ability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. We see you.
Sexual abuse includes more than just brute force; in fact, it does not have to constitute force and/or physical violence. More often than not, sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the victim knows; this can be a caretaker, family member, family friend, dating partner, or spouse. The lines drawn in the sand that constitute sexual abuse are based on the boundaries and feelings of ownership one has over their body and what they feel is a violation. You say you were abused; we believe you.
Sexual abuse is common though not the norm. It is shameful but not the victim’s shame. There is no one size fits all; one victim’s experience may mimic another’s, but they are not the same. A victim may feel one thing at one moment and a totally different way the next. Victims might love and hate their abuser simultaneously, or they may want nothing to do with them, but the abuser is still in their lives.
A victim’s experience is unique; however, abuse alone is not a monopoly.
The aftermath of abuse can manifest in new relationships, personal and professional. It can impede on one’s ability to love or form healthy relationships. One’s mind may begin to betray them, unlocking what was once buried and introducing intrusive thoughts and dreams. Headaches, gastrointestinal problems, chronic fatigue, anxiousness, and depression can be long-term effects of sexual abuse.
The trauma of sexual abuse is lifelong though the impact can subside. It does not have to be “it is what it is” or something “you just get over.” You can heal, you can thrive, and you can find happiness. Processing the trauma and the healing journey is not linear, nor is it as simple as doing A-B-C. It does not matter if it happened to you once or if it was a long time ago. It does not matter if you made a report to law enforcement or never told a soul. Advocates at The Women’s Community and Licensed Professional Counselors at Behavioral Health Clinic are here to support you. You are not alone; there are people who are passionate about supporting you. People that care. People who will listen to understand and sit with you in your discomfort without judgment. People you can trust and people that will see you past your pain. We see you, we hear you, and we believe you.
Sexual Assault Victim Services Coordinator