I have asked myself this question many times since December 10, ostensibly the final day of this blog. In many ways, 16 days gave me ample room to explore the impacts and effects of sexual assault, to develop and reflect upon the different ways that being a survivor dictates the form and function of my life everyday.
Even though this is definitely true, I know equally that to finish it here, to not continue
the conversation that has been begun cannot ever really reflect the reality of life as a victim/survivor of sexual assault. For us, that conversation never ends. We are stuck forever in a dialogue with our trauma, a dialogue which although it may often seem as repetitive, tired and strung out as a tape on a loop, nevertheless maintains a constant presence in our lives. There may be days when that track is simply a murmur in the background, barely discernible amongst the clamor of everything else going on in our lives, but there are also days when that obsessive loop comes around again and again, blurting its senseless noise out brutally and invasively, drowning out any potentially competing sounds comprehensively, leaving us feeling that this is all we know, all we will ever know.
Being a survivor is a constant thing. An ongoing thing. A task that has been set us without our permission, without our consent, without our desire. We have not chosen this reality, we have little control over the details of it or the consequences of it in our lives (trauma and its impacts are well beyond the control of any human being) and yet, the one thing that remains our choice to make is how we respond to it. In many ways we can only submit. Trauma is too big to ignore, too intense to avoid, too monumental to evade. Still, submission is not as passive as it is sometimes construed. Accepting that what has happened to us has happened, even though it never should have, even though it isn’t fair, even though it isn’t right, gives us back, to some degree, the power that was taken from us so unjustly, so violently at the outset.
By speaking about what has been done us and how it feels, we give this complex, brutal, incomprehensible force that we live with, reality. We refuse to dismiss rape and the impact it has had on us and those closest to us, we refuse to cooperate with the perpetrator. Rather, we name the horror and injustice that has been done us and, in a significant way, we cause a shift in the world. We ask others to acknowledge rape and the harm that it does, we require that sexual assault and the fact of its (frequent) occurrence be taken into account. We make space for our own suffering and for that of others and it is this space which creates the potential for healing, for improvement, for a better world for all of us.
And so, for these reasons, I have decided to continue to discuss my experience of surviving sexual assault, to continue to document what it’s like to live with injustice, violence and cruelty, to continue to explore what helps and what doesn’t, to continue to express what life is like from a victim/survivor’s perspective. I hope you will agree to accompany me.
P.S. I would love to hear your stories of what it’s like to live as a victim/survivor. I would love for this to be an open and safe space for people to share their ideas, thoughts and feelings on their own experiences and on mine, as conveyed here. So, please, if you feel able and willing, do share. (A polite and respectful tone is required.)