A fellow survivor wrote this on a message board I follow. It really struck me and went right to my heart. Her words of encouragement were just what I needed to hear that day, and she graciously gave me permission to share them with you on my blog. I hope they bring you comfort.
“This is something I wrote and wanted to share with all of you, from my heart, with love and acceptance.
If you are reading this, you are winning.
You are winning the hardest battle that you have faced, and that is to simply stay alive. You have come through a nightmare and survived. You are a warrior of strength and courage. You have a story worth telling.
I am a rape victim. The details of the violence against me are unimportant, not because they don’t matter, but because they aren’t what is most meaningful in my life. What’s important is that I understand how it feels to be destroyed inside, to have my heart broken and trust annihilated. I know how it feels to have skin that crawls because it feels dirty, even after you wash yourself clean a hundred times. I know what it’s like to wake up in fear from bad dreams and to get up in the morning anyway, barely crawling through the day until collapsing into despair and loneliness. I wondered to myself if anything would ever be right again, and if everything that was good and pure in my life would vanish under my touch.
I know what it’s like to be raped, and I know what it takes to continue on.
But here is the important part of my story; not the details of violence against me, but my life after it. The part of my story that you need to hear about are the things that happened after the violence — the moments of intense joy, profound happiness, and complete fulfillment. The beautiful part of the story includes the night that forged me with fire, but it does not revolve around it. Our lives are not defined by the violence of others. My life is not a product of a choice that was taken away.
I have lived since that day. I have fallen in love, been touched without fear, and have felt the weight of the past lift from my shoulders as my love for myself grew. I have felt peace.
Our lives are defined by the fact that we are where we are today, moving forward after someone else’s worst case scenario became our reality. We are defined by the impossible strength that was required – sometimes just to get up and shower and brush our teeth.
I will not lie — there are days that it still takes strength to get out of bed. There are still nightmares and flashbacks and the occasional panic attack. There is still a voice – imprisoned in the farthest reaches of my mind – that tells me I am worthless and unworthy.
I must also say this – MY voice is stronger. My voice tells me that I am strong and beautiful and desirable, and it overshadows the quiet voice that tries to whisper me lies. My voice tells others who have walked the path I have walked that you are all my inspiration, my friends, and my sisters. My voice is not muffled by violence or fear.
Your voice is also strong.
We have overcome the darkness each in our own way, and we continue to overcome each day. I know, and you know, that sometimes it is one step forward and two back. It would be a lie to say that one day we will wake up and the past will have been erased – that can never be – but it is true that we can win our battles. We can learn to love others, and most especially ourselves. We can fight for justice for ourselves and advocate for others who are still fighting the darkness. Our strength will always – and forever – overshadow the cowardice of those who wounded us out of weakness.
If you are struggling, hang on. If you are slipping, take my hand. You are NOT alone.
We are winning. And we are winning together.”
Simply amazing. Thank you so much, my friend. Hugs go out to you in your struggle. We’re here for you, as well.