Have you ever had an experience that played over and over in your mind? One that caused you to wake in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning? One that wouldn't allow you to go back to sleep no matter how hard you tried? One that caused you to look something straight in the eye and face it head on? Better yet, the real question is have you ever had a dream about sexual assault? Well, for many survivors these types of dreams occur regularly. As a survivor you live for the day when you can sleep again, when you can close your eyes and not remotely think, see, or feel anything regarding sexual assault.
When one finally reaches that point when their dreams are no longer interrupted by that terror, they begin to believe they will never have to experience it again or at least I did. I believed that my dreams were free from that terror. It seems that in light of the influx of sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations in the news, we don’t actually have to be sleep to see & hear about this. We all can’t seem to escape from the the topic. When I arrived home one day last week, I was angry and a bit sadden out of no where by the recent allegations. As many are debating if these stories are true or not, as well as the comments of “Well, who's next to go down? Over the last couple of months many have turned their noses up at many of these allegations. Made rude comments such as “survivors are only after money and spotlight” and more. For many who have experienced sexual assault the experience alone is it’s own headline as it plays over and over and over in your brain! “It's pure hell and fighting through without taking your own life isn't easy”. The flash back, dreams, feelings of no self worth, the horror, the pain, the depression, the triggers and more. It literally pissed me off that the concept of understanding that being affected by sexual harassment & sexual assault doesn't appear simple for some. “If you haven't sexually harassed or assaulted someone then your not next but if you did yes you very much could be next”. I decided I needed to table my thoughts, feelings and call it day because fighting this fight can become very overwhelming. I went to sleep only to be greeted by this in my dreams. I thought I was legit free from the terror until today, when it began to haunt me yet again. Funny thing though, this haunting was a little different. It didn't involve reliving my experience, screaming and fighting but yet it involved me looking the terror in the eye yet again. I realized that terror exist not just for survivors but the alleged or perpetrator and family, friends of both parties as well as the general public too. Many may say “why do you care about anyone else besides survivors”, To answer that, it’s less about care & more about trying to understand why does rape, molestation & sexual assault exist, in order to prevent it as well as examine the results of this experience overall.
I woke up to the news that Kentucky Republican State Rep Don Johnson, accused of sexual assault died in an apparent suicide. As a survivor of sexual assault I’m truly sadden by the death of this man. The idea that he felt suicide was his only way of dealing with the allegations breaks my heart. I wonder what he thought, felt and what made him do it? I’ve been legit grieved by this news. I am truly and earnestly praying for his family. The terror Johnson, must have been experiencing to move forward with taking his own life made me think of the terror survivors feel daily. Sadly, the internal hell that some are experiencing due to allegations is quite similar to the hell of living life as a survivor. Not to compare pain but I only can speak from one view because I've experienced it. Overall, this helped me to realize that the terror of sexual assault can affect us all.
Terror is defined by webster as “a state of intense fear.” In luau of sexual assault, terror can visit all of those who are affected by the experience. Whether you are the one that inflicted the terror upon yourself or others, if it was inflicted upon you first hand by way of another, if you care & support someone who’s living in terror or if you’ve vicariously experienced it as a result of the news…terror is terror!
Katherine Zimmerman of the National review recently entitled an article “America Won’t Win The War On Terror Until It Understands The Enemy.” This remains true on the terror of sexual assault & harassment. Until we can understand the full impact sexual assault & harassment has on our country, we will forever loose the war on this terror! This holiday season and the many reports are merely triggers of their own experiences. While the #MeToo movement is a great victory for the sexual violence community it can be the enhancement of terror. Some can't celebrate without crying due to the reminder that finally our crowns are being recognized but we've endure so much pain before our voice could be heard. You may be thinking what can I do to help wipe the tears...Begin to understand by:
Spreading Awareness- Many people have heard of sexual assault & harassment but many are unaware of the impact. Awareness has to occur before education & action can take place.
Hold People Accountable For Their Actions- If there is no responsibility taken it send the message that certain actions are permissible and allows for continuation and people suffering in silence. Accountability invokes Responsibility.
Support Survivors- Show survivors that you care, believe and validate their experiences. Fighting a fight when your weak & alone lessens your chances of winning. Support in the way of advocacy, counseling, therapy, support groups, coalitions, family & friends can make a world of different for someone experiencing the terror of sexual assault.
Educate Yourself & Your Community- Education is the most powerful weapon in the world! If we begin to educate people we then can lessen the risk factors and possibly prevent sexual assault from running rampant in our country or even across the world.
Understand Power Dynamics, Privilege And Dismantle it- Sexual Violence is an act that is an act perpetuated by power & control. To understand, break down and win the war against terror we must first understand the systems that are in place that help enhance the power dynamics in our country and how they impact sexual violence.
Help us win the war on terror today by doing your part! We all have the proper weapons in our reach, question is are we willing to engage in battle?
If the terror from with becomes too much for you Call 1-800-273-8255 or 215 985-3333 email or text us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LaQuisha Anthony, Founder – CEO of V.O.I.C.E, Author, Speaker & Voice Coach