Content Warning: Discussions of sexual violence and abuse
This Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Disabled Survivors Unite is sharing messages on our blog written by survivors for survivors.
We recognise the importance of people speaking out about sexual violence, and we stand with all those who have told their stories, but we also know the current media coverage is overwhelming for many survivors. Due to how difficult these past few months have been especially, we decided to ask survivors to write messages of support and advice for other survivors who are struggling.
Today we’re sharing messages from Jodie and Fiona.
I didn’t really start processing what had happened to me until almost a year later, during a high-profile rape scandal at my university, and for ages I worried that I’d just “jumped on the bandwagon” or misremembered events to fit what I was reading in the news.
It turns out that those late realisations are actually a pretty common response, partly because of how the brain processes trauma and partly because sexual abuse and harassment are so normalised that survivors often assume they’re the problem.
My thoughts are with all survivors struggling with recent news, but particularly with those realising for the first time that they’re a survivor too – your experiences are real, and I believe you.
Don’t be angry with yourself if you cannot leave the person who hurt you. It can take a long time to get to a position where you feel able to leave, whether it’s because you don’t feel safe leaving or because you are reliant on them. This becomes extra complicated when the person is your carer. You can do things at a pace which keeps you safe, and sometimes that means staying for a while.
I can’t recommend rape counselling highly enough. I had it in the year following the rape, and I also went back last year because I realised that there were elements of it which had only really bubbled to the surface recently, 17 years after the fact. There is no time limit on when you go – they will help you even if it was decades ago. Contact your local rape and abuse network, and ask them if they have an advocate who specialises in disability, or if they can find one.