Trigger warning: Sexual Assault
“It is how you live with it and what you do with what happened to you that will define you.”A close family member’s advice
Each sexual assault survivor has their own way of living with what happened to them, and I am here for all of them. The ones that repost quotes on their accounts, the ones that are vocal, the ones that only talk about it with their closest confidants and the ones that stay silent.
I’ve decided that I want to be vocal about it. I want to break the stigma and hopefully change something through my writing and through my vulnerability. I don’t see being vulnerable as weak, I see it as a tool and weapon.
Does me talking about my sexual assault make you uncomfortable? It should. Because I still feel uncomfortable anytime I relive that moment, I still live with the consequences and side effects of that night. I’ve requestioned my sexuality. I still live with crippling anxiety. I still have to confront relationships I lost and am rebuilding due to this event. I still live with PTSD. I still live with certain questions like: “what were you wearing?”
No one should have to live through this violation.
I think a lot about what my father told me, “don’t let this situation define who you are.” I can’t deny that sadly, sometimes I do forget about Veronica. I do forget that I am more than that night. Often, when I finally feel that I am moving beyond this event, finally leaving it in my past, something random can trigger me.
Yet, since publishing my narrative a year ago, I’ve regained my voice. I’ve rebuilt friendships and relationships. I’ve fallen back in love with my passions. I’m opening up the door to find the old Veronica mixed with a new and still beautiful version of herself. I’ve felt like I have come home to myself in this body.
I got a tattoo in one of the countries I grew up in. I got a hummingbird. Hummingbirds are small and have to work hard to survive. It is a symbol of strength and rising above hardship. Hummingbirds can also represent joy and love. They also tend to be loners, so they can also symbolize freedom. Lastly, hummingbirds hum due to their speed. I placed this tattoo on my right outer wrist, the hand I write with, to represent the voice I regained through my pen and the freedom I finally feel.
I can’t end this article without a big thank you. To the women that have supported me the whole way, have held my hand and wiped my tears. Thank you. To the men that have had to confront this reality because it hit too close to home and who have started to call out misogyny and are listening to what they can do to help change. To the men and women who have shared their own stories with me, trusting me. Thank you. To anyone that has checked in on me, in any way, shape or form, thank you. Having that support really gave me strength. It helped me stop covering up the scar and helped me start healing it.
“Everyone heals in their own time and in their own way. The path isn’t always a straight line, and you don’t need to go it alone.”– Zeke Thomas
You can follow more of Veronica