I have four beautiful friends who are survivors. Actually I probably have many more than four survivor friends, but these four women I know well. I know the details of their stories. I have seen them refuse to allow the violence in their pasts to hold them down. I have seen them use their stories to become better people and to help others. They have inspired me. This post is for them.
To my over-achieving friend: Working closely with you over the past 6 months has shown me what a strong woman you are. Since I have known you, you have come so far in your recovery. You are able to talk about it freely now and even shared your story with a group of men, something I’m sure you never thought you would be able to do. You are an incredible person and recently you have made some HUGE life-altering changes, and I know it can’t be easy and at times it probably seems like you should’ve played it safe, as most people would have. But you are doing what you want now and you are being true to yourself, and that takes strength and self-confidence. Perhaps that strength comes from being a survivor or perhaps it was your own inherent strength that allowed you be a survivor, either way it is admirable.
To my activist friend: You take activist to a new level. While most people, including myself, often think there is nothing I can do because I am only person, you are doing everything. You are working with people and writing blogs and beautiful poetry. You are fighting violence halfway around the world and still focused on what we are doing at home. You will light the world on fire and you will make the changes you want to see. You’re dedication and desire to end sexual violence is astounding and the world will be a safer place because of the work you are doing.
To my best friend: Your rape was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. Watching you heal and grow into the extraordinary person that you are now, on the other hand, has been one of my most inspiring experiences. You are strong beyond words and every time I see the new side of you, I am a little awe-struck by your new presence and maturity. I’m sure this growth doesn’t stem only from the rape, and I certainly don’t think it was a good thing. But I think you turned it into something positive, you made it a life experience, and instead of letting it haunt you, you let it help you. That is unbelievable and I know you will help many other women with your experience.
To my partner: When you first told me your story, I was filled with anger and hate but then I was just heartbroken. Heartbroken for you, because you said to deal with it, you just pretend it was a bad dream. I wanted to shake you and make you understand that it was not dream, and it was terrible and traumatic and real. I wanted to do that so you could face reality and heal. I didn’t though and I promised to be supportive and caring and we talked about it a little. Then all of a sudden you started talking about it and asking how to find closure. Now you are facing the reality of being molested and I can see that you are healing. It will be a long road but the fact that you have begun the journey makes me so happy and proud. And I am truly honored that you are allowing me to help you.
Each of you women have changed my life for the better. All of you are incredible, awe-inspiring people and I think all of us could learn from you. I know I will not be and have not been the only one who is encouraged by your successful journeys towards acceptance and healing. I love each of you and want to thank you for being a part of my life.