#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 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

#ITSNOTOK My Story: 5

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

For Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week we are amplifying disabled survivors voices on our blog. This piece of writing was sent to us anonymously.

Content note: this post is about sexual violence.

5

5,889 miles. 12 hours. 5 years. 3 minutes. 1 person

One night, less than 12 hours. 5,889 miles from the safety of home. You took those hours away from me.

A slip of the hand, a disguised sedative. You marked my body with blood and bruises, imprinting my skin with your control. A constant reminder of my domination and shame.

Waking with no recollection, just the physical marks of power. The shame and embarrassment washed over me biting the wounds aggressively with tides of salt water. A million hidden tears, stinging my wounds. I recoiled and hid my shame from the world.

The bruises you had left on skin had faded but had become scars on my mind. 5 years later. My memory was lost again. The scars of your trauma began to bleed. A 5-year flood burst its banks, washing over me with fear, guilt, shame, terror.

Jolting me awake to the terror of this world. Everything a threat. Lights too bright. Noises too loud. Danger always constant. My mind hyper-vigilant to the potential of my loss of control.

As the people in my life watch me writhe and shake on the floor. My body banging against the floor, my mind attempting to expel your bruises from my mind.

3 minutes. My body disconnecting from the fear, shame, self-loathing and guilt. Trying to process the suffering you caused me.

Slowly I began to heal. Self-love stitched together those scars you made. A wash of anger clotted those scars, hardening them. That guilt and shame unable to penetrate. Resilient.

I now wear those scars as armour. I can talk about them. I can cry and scream about them. I accept them as signs of a battle that I lost, but of a war that I have won. Proof that there is always the possibility of healing.

1 person did this to me. 3 minutes of disconnection. 5 years of shame. 12 hours of domination. 5,889 miles away.

But they will not control me again.

If you have been affected by this post, or would like help to find accessible services in your area, please visit our support page by clicking here.

If you would like to share your story with us, you can anonymously submit by clicking here.

A Letter to Survivors #ITSNOTOK

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

For Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week we are amplifying disabled survivors voices on our blog. This letter was sent to us anonymously.

“Dear Survivor,

Please know that what happened to you is not your fault.

I know myself how easy it can be to blame yourself or to blame your disability, but you have done nothing wrong and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

You matter. Your story is important. And you are not alone.”

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If you have been affected by this post, or would like help to find accessible services in your area, please visit our support page by clicking here.

Disabled Survivors Unite Says #ITSNOTOK

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

For Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week we are amplifying disabled survivors voices on our blog. This story was sent to us anonymously.

Content note: this post mentions rape.

“I was recovering from brain injury, I had become paralysed on my right hand side and couldn’t walk very well. A person who had been my boyfriend a few years before came to visit me. We were now friends, buddies. We were looking at records and magazines in my bedroom.

He gave me a hug, then kissed me, then raped me in my bedroom. It was not consensual sex, I was stuck in my bedroom, deeply terrified and ashamed.

I never told anyone, not even my mum. I just remember being fixed in one position feeling very cold, scared and confused.”

If you have been affected by this post, or would like help to find accessible services in your area, please visit our support page by clicking here.

If you would like to share your story with us, you can anonymously submit by clicking here.