For years now I’ve been contemplating going public as a survivor. To me, that doesn’t necessarily mean shouting it from the rooftops, but rather making some sort of statement on Facebook. That way, I can get it over with all at once — like ripping off a band aid. I’ve even gone as far as to make a draft of what I would say in this post.
At this point, many of my friends know, but my mom is the only person in my family who knows. I was also very open at the last college I attended (which went fairly well). I want to be honest and genuine with the people around me. I feel like opening up to people would accomplish that since being a survivor is such a big part of my day to day life.
Other benefits that I anticipate are receiving support from my loved ones, raising awareness and maybe, just maybe, my perpetrators might figure out that I’m referring to them and learn from their mistakes. I’m still friends with a few of them on Facebook. Weird. I know.
However, I’ve been nervous about a few things. The first is backlash (such as people saying stupid things like “What were you wearing?”). If I tell my story rather than just announcing that I’m a survivor, people will inevitably pick it apart and try to blame me in some way… which won’t be difficult to do since in many ways my situation could’ve been worse. But I have every right, nonetheless, to feel the way I feel. I know my truth, but the fact that some people won’t will be deeply troubling.
I’m also afraid of people treating me differently once they find out. I don’t want to be The Sexual Assault Survivor. I don’t want my past to define me in the eyes of others. I know. I care way too much about what people think of me.
In addition, people will probably ask me about it… but oftentimes I won’t want to talk about it or think about it. What if people probe for information?
Another thing I’m worried about is people figuring out who did it. I’m someone outright asks me “Did ___ sexually assault you?” and they guess correctly… Shit. I won’t be able to lie. People will inevitably ask me for that information out of a desire for revenge. I understand that, but I have no desire whatsoever for revenge. It’s not my style. Besides, some of the people who sexually assaulted me actually learned from what they did. They don’t deserve to be publicly shamed if you ask me.
Also, I think that I should tell my dad and brother before going public. They shouldn’t have to find out from a Facebook post. But telling those two would be damn hard.
Last fall, an acquaintance of mine came out on Facebook in a short but sweet post. From what I saw, people seemed to be very supportive. Ever since then, I’ve been thinking more than ever about whether I should become more public as well.
Last week, I asked her if she’d be willing to share with me what her experience sharing her story was like. She was sexually assaulted by a family member, so telling her siblings was hard. They supported her which took “a huge weight of pain and self shame off my shoulders.” She recommended telling people I trust most first so that when I go public I’ll have “a little army behind me.” Well, most of the people closest to me know at this point.
When she posted on Facebook, not a single person reacted negatively. She was happily surprised by all the support and love she got from everyone. Some people were angry and wanted to know who did it, but that’s the worst of it. She’s really glad she did it and said she hopes to do it again in more detail later in her life.
Hearing that was super encouraging and is making me want to share my story more than ever.