As a victim of sexual assault I have had my life turned upside down, my beliefs and hopes decimated and my sense of self devastated. In trying to make sense of what happened to me, I have struggled overwhelmingly with a sense of isolation, fragmentation and dislocation. Despite reporting the assault to the police, despite excellent counselling and support services and despite an extraordinarily patient and supportive family, I have often felt unable to articulate, or be heard on, the devastation and upheaval that sexual assault continues to create for me everyday.
This blog is an attempt to create a public space where the impact of sexual assault can be described and discussed. Tomorrow, 25 November, is International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women and kickstarts the 16 Days of Action Against Gendered Violence. Inspired by this global activity to combat violence against women I wanted to see if I could make use of my personal experience of gendered violence to offer a perspective on rape, sexual assault, violence against women and how devastating these crimes are. It is my belief that until we learn to hear victims’ voices and to make space for them in our societies and cultures we will not be able to prevent victimisation from taking place. This is my action to speak up as a victim and to create a space for victims’ voices to be articulated and heard.