These past two weeks have been pretty emotionally draining for me dealing with the upcoming release from prison of the man that raped me. My family, friends and my Facebook followers have all surrounded me with so much love and support and I am so grateful.
You may wonder, moving forward, how is that you can still support me or other survivors? Here's a list for today's Five on Friday.
1. If I call you because I’m scared--it’s okay to ask me if you should come over. I promise to answer truthfully if you promise to honor my response. (No means no. Do not mess with this golden rule with a sexual assault survivor. Please.)
2. Semantics, shemantics but words do make a difference to me. I prefer being called a survivor, not a victim. It's okay if you slip up, I do, too sometimes especially when I'm dealing with offices with "Victim" in the title that are providing resources to me. But what I really can't tolerate is people using the word “rape” casually or jokingly.
3. Don’t be afraid to bring it up, talk to me or ask me about my experience. Don't hesitate in asking me to speak to an individual or group about it. (And come see me perform my story with the Meta Theatre Company when you can!) Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about consent and rape (in a way they can handle. I have tips if you need them. Baby steps.) Teach them that they are the bosses of their own bodies. Please.
4. I don't find comfort in violent wishes against the man that raped me ("I wish I could beat the shit out of him" etc.). If it makes you feel better to wish him ill then you do that, but please don't share it with me. Part of it is this damn bleeding heart of mine (I just can't believe someone would grow up in a healthy environment rife with opportunity and choose to become a rapist) and part of it is self-preservation. I could wish him ill but that would feel like hate corroding my vessel. I instead wish he's getting the support and resources he needs to never hurt anyone else ever again.
5. I know the above four are pretty specific to me, I know there are plenty of survivors that would be horrified by speaking to a crowd or find solace differently than I do. But here's one thing I am pretty sure would work for anyone: when it doubt, ask. How are you? Can I help you? How can I support you?