How I Learnt to Feel Empowered After Sexual Assult
With the society we live in, it can be difficult, as a woman, to feel empowered with unrealistic beauty and body expectations, and not to mention everyday sexism. Add the crushing devastation and insecurity that accompanies rape, the feeling of empowerment seems like an unachievable goal.
My name is Rebekah, and two years ago I was raped. In the past year, I’ve been using my experience to help other women who have been in similar situations, as well as a network where survivors empower survivors. I’m very open about my rape, but I understand that it is still very much a taboo topic, which is why I am so passionate about being featured in this publication.
I recently celebrated my second rape anniversary. Celebration is an odd choice of word I know, but I was able to recognise that despite it being something that causes hurt and upset, it has also enabled so many opportunities. If I hadn't been raped, I wouldn't have this blog, I wouldn't have made such strong relationships with people I would have otherwise not met or talked to. I am now, also involved in a charity that aims to eliminated gender-based violence and sexual assault.
And, when attempting to write a letter to my younger self, as a method of reflection, I truly found the meaning of how I could empower myself:
“I don't have any profound message to give to my 18 year-old you - I still don't really know what I'm doing with my life right now, but give yourself a break. Even if all those things hadn't happened, if you hadn't been raped, you still didn't like yourself. A lot of your self-hatred will be down to the idea that you hadn't been raised for a life like this; you were just meant to have a safe, boring, but ordinary life. You weren't raised to get yourself in the place that enabled you to be raped - but no one is, because the only person to be blamed for that is the rapist. This may not have been the life that you had hoped for, but that doesn't mean it's not a worthy life, or one where you can't help make a difference. Forgive yourself and love yourself a bit more - you're the only person left punishing you - and you deserve more than that.”
Don't get me wrong, I'm not this composed individual that always feels enlightened and empowered because of my experience, and no survivor should think that's expected of them, but the possibility to be, is there for them.