My name is Sarah. I'm twenty-one years old, in college to become a teacher. I'm bisexual and dating a wonderful woman. I work for Wal-Mart and come from a Texas family where I have a younger brother and sister. My parents are in the beginnings of a divorce.
I'm a survivor of sexual assault.
Chances are you know someone like me. After all, one in four women is sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Most of these assaults happen on college campuses or on public transportation. The definition for sexual assault is very wide, including everything from inappropriate touching to gang rape. I was the victim of a date rape in high school and it has affected my personal life ever since. It is very possible it will have an effect on me for the rest of my life. The biggest problem I face with this instance is that I don’t know how people will view me after I have confessed to them what happened to me. I fear being judged and rejected, and this is not an empty fear. I have had people stop contact with me because I am supposedly tainted by what happened. It has become acceptable in this world to reject a survivor because of the fact that they have become less than human by someone else’s act. Many people see it, few people stop it.
I am not alone in this. Many survivors, both men and women, face the stigma surrounding sexual assault. We are viewed as lesser, as weaker, as victims, because of our experiences. When I approach my own lovers, and yes, even the woman I am dating now who is wonderful and passes no judgment on my past, I am hesitant to confess to them what happened. It is very typical of today’s society to tell a woman that she was “asking for it” or that she shouldn’t have done this or that, so when we approach someone that we wish to get close and we reveal this part of ourselves, we expect to be knocked back, almost as a defense mechanism. Our world has become cold and uncaring towards survivors, and we have evolved along with it, assuming the worst of our partners and friends.
It is so hard to discover who will accept your baggage and who won’t in this world. Someone who comes across as kind can turn in an instant and abandon you for something you could not help. However, my advice to my fellow survivors is that you also can’t tell who will accept you and who will love you and your past. And for those of you dating a survivor: be their support. We need someone who loves us for us and doesn’t just see what happened. We understand that it is hard for some of you to accept this, especially since our assaulters could be someone you know. We ask that you believe and accept us, though, as so many people in the world already call us liars and attention seekers.