PROSAF – POSITIVE REACTIONS OVER SECRETS AND FEARS SURVIVING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CARIBBEAN
IN our last article we spoke about not letting your past dictate your future. When one is traumatized it can feel like everything is clouded by what caused the trauma. You may find it difficult to see your future because for many you are carrying a weight on your shoulders. I know that it is easier said than done but truly your past isn’t a representation of your future.
A terrible thing or things have happened in your past, some may still be happening which can make seeing the light at the end of the tunnel more difficult. You get to decide how your story ends, you get to decide what happens in your future. I know it maybe difficult to believe right now but don’t let your past and what was done to you dictate how your future goes.
As we continue on with the article, I would like you to pay attention to how your body reacts as you go through the article. You may experience flashbacks or something in the article may trigger a memory. I would like you to be mindful of your body’s reaction, sweaty palms, erratic breath, hyper vigilance etc, it may mean that you need to take a moment to step away from the article, center yourself and then decide whether you are able to continue on. In this week’s article I thought we would discuss the family’s part in your recovery and how that can positively or negatively impact your future.
Sexual Violence has been a taboo subject for some time now. We acknowledge that it exists but we find it difficult to empathize with survivors/victims. We are part of a worldwide culture that sees the victim/survivor as a participant in their own assault. Survivors of sexual violence haven’t been given a safe forum to share their stories, they haven’t had a place to seek solace and proper care but most importantly many have not had supportive family members to help them address what was done to them or aid in the journey to recovery.
Being victimized by an abuser is extremely traumatic, that, coupled with the reality that you have no one to confide in especially in your family further compounds the trauma. Some may confide in a family member only to be ignored or interrogated leaving them feeling more isolated and further victimized. Many prefer not to attempt to understand or acknowledge what a victim of sexual assault has been through or what they are dealing with on a daily basis, which makes the healing journey ten times more difficult and isolating.
The journey to recovery is a daily one, the issues that have arisen because of their assault are with them on a daily basis. Many survivors/victims feel alone and guilty over something they could not control and this is in part due to the reactions of the those closest to them coupled with what their abusers constantly reiterated- This Is Your Fault – No One Will Do Anything , You Made This Happen, etc. Many don’t understand the daily triggers that one has to deal with, or how painful it is having to face one’s abuser time after time knowing what was done and knowing that he walks freely and unpunished yet guilty of a crime against you.
Families are supposed to be a safe space, they are supposed to be the place that you feel comfortable sharing your fears and hurts with the belief that you will be supported, believed and aided in whatever you need to heal. What happens when family members don’t support a survivor? The individual internalizes their trauma, they sit and blame themselves for the crime committed against them. They tell themselves they caused it, that they should have known that someone they trusted would betray their trust and violate their boundaries. If the individual sharing what is happening is currently a victim, when you don’t believe them, you allow the abuse to continue, effectively justifying what their abuser had told them.
No one cares, No one will do anything. We don’t understand what it does to a survivor to know that after being defiled they have no-where to turn. We haven’t understood that when one is abused and then left to deal with the ramifications on their own that this only further scars them making the future feel bleak. It makes a survivor feel like they aren’t important, that they aren’t worthy of love, that they aren’t worthy of being protected and cared for. It tells them that you believe they caused their abuse and that they deserve whatever they are currently getting.
I truly can’t seem to understand why an individual would choose the abuser over their child but it seems that is the case more often than not. Parents, you are here to protect children; children deserve to grow up and be children for as long as possible but being abused takes their childhood away from them. It forever changes who they are and how they view people. It changes how they interact with the world and their bodies.
Educating our children and ourselves about the signs of sexual violence is only part of the solution, we also need to educate ourselves on how to deal with those who are victimized. Blaming, shunning, disowning them is not the answer. The one chance that is given to us to help them is often not utilized. We find it easier to persecute them after they have been through so much. It is time to start placing the blame where it is due, it is time to start ensuring that survivors are given the love, hope, respect and help that they need.
To our survivors we hope that your families help out, we hope that they support you but if they don’t, know it is not the end, it will be more difficult but you can do it on your own, I did. This is your life, there are a few bad chapters but it is not a reflection of your entire story. You deserve to be happy. At PROSAF, we are here to listen and help when you are ready.
To my fellow survivors, no matter what anyone tells you, you did nothing wrong, you didn’t cause your sexual assault, you have nothing to be ashamed of. No one can dictate how you heal, what you share, how you share. Don’t let this chapter in your book decide the ending. As a survivor, I know it can be difficult to see anything other than pain and despair, understand, this is not the end. You have survived an experience that was meant to break you, you are truly stronger than you realize. This is your life, your healing journey. You get to decide the boundaries placed and who you let in. PROSAF will always be your safe space.
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence, Miguelle James & Jayde Jean
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com
Facebook: SURVIVING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CARIBBEAN: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PROSAF-Surviving-Sexual-Abuse-in-the-Caribbean/165341356853908
Webpage: http://www.prosaf.org (UP & RUNNING)
Telephone: 1-758-724-9991(sue) 1-758-723-6466(vel)