When I was in college I was sexually assaulted at a party. I always thought it was stereotypical – girl goes to a party, girl gets drunk, girl gets assaulted, boy deigns anything happened, school sides with the boy. I struggled to find my own voice in the aftermath. My sense of self-worth was terribly low and although I chose to see the benefits of a complete redirection in my life, I felt alone and powerless.
I wrote this shortly after it happened sitting in my room at my parents’ house, a fresh drop out of college, struggling with the idea of “What am I supposed to do now?”
“I try to speak, I try to tell but the words won’t come. Panic. It holds me close and creates a barrier between the words and my tongue. I cry out but make no sound. No one knows because I can’t tell them. RAPE. R-A-P-E. It’s me, I’m right here. Don’t you see something is wrong? Building up, Imploding inward. Emotions topple over my barriers and yet I make no sound. I’m stifled stuck in a giant hole of shame, regret, and fear. Why me? WHY ME? I finally cry out. I speak the words I need to. I get it all out. H-E-L-P. no help.
Criticized, Belittled, Attacked. I’m made to feel like I played a role. Anxiety, Fear, and Loneliness grip my body pulling me down. Down. Negative thoughts fill my head. There is no good anymore. All becomes emotionless.
Still, Quiet, Peaceful. Harshly broken by reality. Pain and Anger fill my soul. Gone is the calming feeling I once had. I’m left in this unsafe world all alone. Left to battle and falter over and over again.
I am a victim of sexual assault.”
It has been nine years since then. I am not that frightened, angry, lonely victim anymore. I am a survivor and thriving. I made a choice to stand up and keep moving to figure out what healing looked like for me. It was a slow and unconscious decision. I couldn’t mope around anymore. I needed to find out who I was post-assault. I made a series of decisions moving across the country to California to be with my boyfriend at the time, moving back across the country when his job didn’t work out, working part-time, exercising full time, making new friends and slowly coming out of my shell.
About a year after moving back to the Midwest, I decided I wanted to go back to school to finish my degree this time focusing on health and wellness. I was passionate again, excited to be me. I worked as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, helping others better their lives. I was looking to do more. It was always in the back of my mind to be an advocate for a violence prevention agency. As I transitioned to grad school I had my chance. I had the pleasure of completing my internship with Women Helping Women an agency in Cincinnati, OH. I didn’t think I was ready to help with hospital visits or court proceedings so I helped teach violence prevention programming in local high schools, getting a chance to know students and seeing disparities that come with the difference in income and resources.
Once I graduated, I was ready to head back to Michigan and spend some time with my family and find a job that combined my love of the outdoors with helping survivors of trauma.
Three years ago, I started a new position as a field instructor for a wilderness therapy program in the Midwest. I have learned so much about healthy relationships, the long-term effects of trauma and how to love myself and those around me. I am apart of a community of people that want to make a change in the world and support our adolescents that are struggling with their own traumas.
While I still struggle to unlock the emotional side of my brain and tell myself it’s ok to be imperfect, I am successfully moving forward, able to work slowly, but surely towards wholehearted living.
This guest blog post was written by Jaime. Jaime, thank you for sharing your story with us. We are honored you shared your story and that you are using your voice to help others in their journey.