You’re Not Alone
As a freshmen coming out with my personal survival story, I didn’t know who to go to. I was lost, and felt so alone and confused. I didn’t know my resources or who to talk to. Being a survivor makes you feel alone enough, but not realizing how many others there was around me hadn’t hit me yet.
I’ve talked in front of health classes now for three years, every year learning more about what to say and what not to say. It’s tricky talking to freshmen about something so serious, and hoping that they understand at least a little about it. A part of me feels guilty for talking about something so tough but so important, but I know that this is what they need to hear.
I told my story when I was in ninth grade, when I never thought I would tell anyone until well after I graduated high school. I was terrified of ruining my high school years, and having to deal with a trial while still being in high school. I am so grateful I was able to come forward, everyday, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be having not done so.
I went to trial in the spring of 2019, which I never thought would happen. I testified for six straight hours, after being told that I would only have to testify for two. I never thought the trial would happen, especially after hearing all of the stories of people bringing their abuser to court and them not getting anything. My abuser got 120 months in prison. He got charged for four of the ten charges he was presented with. I’m thankful everyday my family and I got justice.
I get a lot of questions about the trial, and if it was worth it. For me, trial was the only option. Putting my faith in the hands of the detectives and District Attorney was the only option I saw fit for my family and I. For a lot of people though, trial is the last thing they would ever want to go forward with, and that is completely okay. Its okay to want to heal on your own, I’ve needed that too.
A big fear among many survivors is that no one will believe them or no one will think of them the same. It’s horrible to think that so many people feel so alone, and get re-victimized for trying to help themselves and their well being. For most of my childhood and growing into my teenage years, I felt this exact feeling. I thought no one would believe me, especially since my abuser was my grandfather, I thought no one would understand my pain. For my situation, every person I went too believed me and helped me in anyway they could. I felt very understood, and was finally gaining my power back. It helped my depression and anxiety immensely to be able to finally talk about the biggest thing that had happened to me.
I heard about Students Against Sexual Assault from one of my best friends, who I had just told, after she realized I needed a safe place to be. I started going to the club my sophomore year, and after only a few times, I felt like I had a second home. A room full of people who had experienced the same kind of trauma I had, knowing and understanding my struggle, was one of the best therapies I had ever experienced. It was so amazing, I would have never thought that someone would know my struggle and help me as best as they could. Now being the student who is running SASA this year, it is my goal to make every person feel at home like I feel when I’m there.
After being through all of this, it has taught me a couple things. One, I never want anyone to feel alone or not heard. It is one challenge being a survivor and not knowing what to do, but it’s a whole different challenge feeling shunned and silenced. Two, I will always believe anyone who comes to me. Everyone needs someone, and I want to be someone people can confide in. And three, the ball is in your court. You are a survivor, you are the one who needs to be heard before anybody else can say their opinion. If you’re not comfortable with what is going on, you have every right to say something about it. You are in control, and you have every right to be.