#ITSNOTOK Messages from Natasha and Alice

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2018. 5TH - 11TH FEBRUARY

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 Natasha and Alice.

For those days when it’s tough. Focus on small things little achievements from just getting out of bed or sending a message.

And know that no matter who you are and what’s happened there is something good in the world you live in if you look hard enough.

For me with having communication issues I found people would tell me I read the situation wrong. That I must have missed signals. But that shifts the blame to me when it still is not my blame to have. Don’t let people make you feel to blame just because you have more difficulties than other people.

— Natasha

People often say if we’re feeling overwhelmed we should just come off social media, but that’s really difficult for some people, especially for those of us who are isolated without our online communities and friends. A better solution could be to make social media safe spaces for yourself when you’re struggling.

One option for Twitter is to ‘mute’ certain words or hashtags. Another is use browser extensions such as Soothe which allows you to pick which content you don’t want to see and blurs this out.

You could also consider setting up new social media accounts where you can follow others who you know won’t post things you’ll struggle to see. For example you could set up a Twitter account just following certain friends, or an Instagram just following animal accounts. These separate accounts can be a safe space for when things are overwhelming, and you always have the option to go back and use your main accounts when you I want to.

Some people find limiting the amount of news they look at can help too. You could delete news apps on your phone temporarily or change the settings so you aren’t being sent news alert notifications.

There are also lots of apps for people who a struggling with their mental health. For example, Booster Buddy is a free app which lets you check in with how you’re feeling, reminds you about doctors appointments and when to take medication, and helps you follow self-care routines.

— Alice 

#ITSNOTOK Messages from Jodie and Fiona

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2018. 5TH - 11TH FEBRUARY

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.

— Jodie

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.

— Fiona

#ITSNOTOK Messages from Hannah and David

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2018. 5TH - 11TH FEBRUARY

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 Hannah and David.

If you hear or read something upsetting, it’s ok for you to be upset and cry. It’s ok for you to be angry. Equally you might see something which you think should upset you but it doesn’t. That’s ok too, we shouldn’t feel bad about not being upset either. Try to be kind to yourself.

— Hannah

I’m not sure that the hurt and anger will go away completely anytime soon, though it is only 6 months since the incident so I guess it is early days.

These occurrences are now in the news on a daily basis and although this can bring up awful memories for victims, including myself, all this publicity can be looked on as a positive thing. The fact that it is now being so widely reported makes everybody very aware of these things. And this could make it easier for people to be open and to talk about things.

Yes it is absolutely disgusting and distressing that this is so widely spread, but it is only by the publicity and awareness that the way this is dealt with that can bring about change.

My anger and resentment is not only directed at my abuser, but also the limitations of the law and the way it has been dealt with. Maybe something can now change.

I think for me, the biggest breakthrough to my healing was the realisation that it WAS NOT MY FAULT AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!

At first I became very withdrawn and was asked all the time by family and friends “what’s wrong” and “are you okay”. I guess I was too embarrassed and ashamed to say what had happened.

However I realised I had nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. I have nothing to hide.

As we have all seen recently, once someone speaks out then others will feel able to also speak about their experiences.

I guess that what I am trying to say is that it can all be turned into a positive and that the abuse is now more openly talked about and then and only then, we can bring about change.

I also wrote a letter (without any intention of posting it) to my abuser to say how I felt at the time and how it had affected me. I must admit that on rereading it I was surprised at how angry and upset I was, however this was very therapeutic and may be useful thing for other people to do.

— David

A Message for Disabled Survivors #ITSNOTOK

Blue speech bubble logo. Red and white text reads: SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK 2017. 6TH - 12TH FEBRUARY

Yesterday, Disabled Survivors Unite and Respond hosted a disability-themed Twitter Q&A. We asked participants if they could say one thing to a disabled survivor, what would it be? Here are their responses.

“You deserve life. To be happy, to be free. It’s ok to laugh and allow yourself to feel.”Holly Scott-Gardner

“I believe you, it shouldn’t have happened. We can listen, we are not afraid to hear what you need to share.”Noelle Blackman (CEO of Respond)

“You’re loved, you’re worthy, & people are fighting for you. You’re never alone. Your experiences are valid. We believe you.”Disabled Survivors Unite

“It wasn’t your fault. Regardless of what they said, or how they tried to blame you, it wasn’t your fault.”Applewriter

“You survived, you’re strong and you know the truth and therefore you’ll know if someone is trying to silence you.”Respond

“You’ve survived – there’s hope now to find a way to live again and beyond the pain.”Jack Welch

“NEVER blame your impairment (only the abuser) and fight all you need to regain absolute pride in yourself, just as you are.”Merry Cross

“I’ll always be here for you and you mean the world to me. You’re never alone. I love you.”Ashley Stephen

“You are not alone, and you never will be.”Alice Kirby

“I find sharing stories helps survivors, shows that we can get justices.”Mandy Sanghera

I would like to personally thank each and every person who took part in the discussions we had yesterday. The Storify of the Q&A can be found by clicking here

Do you need support? Please click here.