Where to from here?

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.)

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5 Responses to Where to from here?

  1. Noori says:

    I have been a survivor for three years now. My story is twisted, as I was beginning university and continued to have classes with the perpetrator throughout the years. I have been through so much as a result of the assault, including ending up in a relationship with somebody that abused me emotionally, mentally and on several occasions sexually as well. I have felt so many emotions and sometimes felt nothing. I have protected him from rumours (once even to his girlfriend at the time) and felt like I was betraying myself by doing so. I have never wanted to name him. This has affected my relationships with men and even friends and family. I was not so fortunate to have everybody accept and love me. I hardly spoke of the assault until recently, when I came through such a shift in my life that my view is drastically altered. I have announced that I will no longer be a victim. I will be honest about how I am feeling, and I will not hide the fact that I was sexually assaulted. What do I have to fear from telling people? It was not my fault. I have no shame. I have recently begun to write my feelings out, some I have publically posted on Facebook. It’s not much, but it’s more than I’ve done in the past and I feel stronger because of it.

    I understand what you’ve been through. As the Canadian statistic varies between 1/3 and 1/4 women, I have felt more rage and hatred towards the world than anything else. It is always there, shimmering under any other feeling. And I have finally realised that now it’s okay to fee that, and that I have to deal with it, and not ignore it hoping it will go away.

    I just want to thank you again for this. I had not read any other survivor’s account, and I see now that you feel what I feel, and that many others as well are in the same treacherous waters. But knowing I am not alone makes me feel safer.

  2. Kate Ravenscroft says:

    Hi Noori,

    Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to share some of your story. The things that we must live with as survivors are twisted and awful. I am so sorry to hear what you have been through. Your strength comes through so clearly in your comments. You are right – we have no need to feel any shame. It was not our fault. And, I do think that, where possible, talking about it proves this to some degree – both to ourselves and to others. I’m so thrilled to hear you’re posting things on Facebook – I do this, too! After all, rape should be hard to commit and easy to talk about – not the other way around, like it is currently.

    Thank you again for your comments. Stay strong and take care of yourself.

    Best wishes,
    Kate

  3. anon@gmail.com says:

    This blog needs more…

    I think you should out this person, shame him and warn other women.

    Also, are you taking legal action?

  4. Lindsey says:

    Kate,

    I am a college student and I’m taking a class this semester on Gender & Media. We have a blog and I wrote a post about you and wanted to share it with you, since I know I would like to know if someone had written a blog post about me. While I go on and on in the post, about how much I love your blog, I don’t think I go on and on nearly enough. I come back to your blog often when memories/emotions become too much for me to handle, and I’m sure other women do the same. What you did (and continue to do) by being so honest about your experience is so important and wonderful and refreshing and I appreciate it so much. You’re one strong, amazing lady.

    Lindsey

    • Kate Ravenscroft says:

      Hi Lindsey,

      Thank you so much for your feedback – for your comment and your own post. Thank you for sharing it with me. It was incredibly moving to read your thoughts on my blog. I am so glad that sharing my experience here has been a useful resource for you.

      I couldn’t agree more with your comment “the idea of a world full of survivors able to reach out to one another to end violence against women is one of the most empowering and beautiful things I can imagine.” I hope that this blog, and your response to it, might be one way we can actually create such a network.

      Kate

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