"It is perfectly natural and I am only human, I can find healthy outlets for my emotions and outbursts through self care - journaling, yoga, or exercise of my choice."
I was raped 8 years ago when I was 18 years old by someone I trusted. As my first sexual encounter, it took me quite some time to comprehend and come to terms with what had happened.
The first people I told were not the people that deserved to hear my story. They laughed and belittled the circumstances, my initiation into victim blaming and shaming. It was the first of many experiences where I and my story were invalidated.
As a means to survive, I withdrew, I became angry, slept most days, I self medicated, and (naturally) gravitated towards unhealthy outlets as a means to heal that only took me further away from myself. I fantasized about suicide and got very close to taking my own life.
Over the past 8 years there have been periods of time where I take two steps forward and one step. Healing is a continual process. While I don't think about my assault on a day to day basis anymore, I know I make a daily choice to exist in a way where my rape no longer defines me and my relationships with others.
I blamed and judged myself so harshly for the things I did to make myself feel better. I was no stranger to self-criticism and self-loathing. What I have learned, and what I want others who have been victims of assault to know: Do not blame or harbor resentment towards yourself for how you have coped or your survival instincts that have kicked in to protect you and your soul. It is perfectly natural, and you are only human.
I take back my power when I understand that while it is perfectly natural, and I am only human, I can find healthy outlets for my emotions and outbursts, and I can practice communicating in a way that doesn't come from a place of fear or hurt. I can practice self care - journaling, yoga, or exercise of my choice - when I'm feeling agitated or distressed, instead of seeking comfort from a substance. When feeling triggered in an interaction, I can choose to walk away, take a deep breath, and recognize that the other person has their own story, and struggle, too. Every person has experienced trauma, and that informs who they are and how they behave.
I've also taken back my power by sharing my story with other men and women. While it is awful what has happened to me, and something that I will never make excuses for, it has given me a unique perspective on life, strength, and what it means to be truly resilient against all odds. Just like my strength, I am infinite.