“Here I stand, as not a survivor but a thriver. In the face of sexual trauma, I thrive, I am ever proud to be alive, and I will work till I die-with not a single look behind, into the face of who tried to take my power.” ~ Aria
As a young cub, early teen years, I was sexually assaulted by someone much closer than a stranger.
The experience of that, and the direct aftermath, feels like a surreal twist of idle time.
Many sexual abuse survivors may be familiar with the term dissociation. My response was to freeze and leave my body, leave my sense of mind—my sense of time.
That evening was the first step toward years of self-disconnection, anxiety, distrust, and pain.
To me, surviving sexual assault or abuse is never just the situation itself.
Surviving in the aftermath, the healing—and for me, at a time so young—relied on me creating a healthy relationship with sex, sexual energy, and my sexuality—with sexual assault at the forefront, as one of my first experiences.
Once the wound was there, it seemed that everything, perceived or actual, forced the suffering deeper. Or more so, fooled me as I thought I’d stitched it up. It was, of course, infected further within.
The way sexual abuse spread throughout my being and into my relationships—romantic, sexual or not—was sneaky, and easily missed.
It accumulated to the most significant embodiment of rejection and shame that affected my life.
The way one feels their heartbeat, or their stomach rumble, I felt my legs ache, my sexuality crumble, my heart pierced, and my vagina curl up inside of itself. I mean that as seriously as I can, though it may sound a bit funny.
Speaking of shame cannot be done lightly. Shame penetrates every area of the self and works to destroy all that help it shine. I encourage all to look into body memory and to learn about trauma, so as to be able to relate it to your personal experience.
I held sexual trauma in my body, and I kept it—as if holding on to it was protecting myself from anything like that ever happening again. Maybe I even wore it as a badge—”survivor”—as if breathing just above the depths of sexual trauma was enough.
Yet, here I stand, not as a survivor, but a thriver. In the face of sexual trauma, I thrive, and I am ever proud to be alive, and I will work until I die—with not a single look behind, into the face of who tried to take my power.
The journey (although I’d instead refer to it as a one-woman, 17,000-day, up-hill hike into the dark wilderness) of dipping my toes into discovering shame concerning my body, my sexuality, my womanhood—and what I wanted that to be going forward—was pivotal.
Sexual abuse shame, judgement, and personal rejection ate away at the pits of my soul for a long time. It ate away at my relationships and I was chained.
To speak of the reflection, the “in hindsight,” or the memory that can stain one’s mind, required kindness, understanding, love, and knowledge of trauma response, so that I could further understand the experience.
I know now that at the time, I did the best I could for that young girl, and I did the best I could for my family going forward.
Please, if you carry regret, shame, or look in hindsight to dig at yourself—don’t. You did the best that you could. Whatever you did, and however you did it—it’s okay.
I ripped myself apart for so long. I could say that it was easier to begin again, because I felt there was only a shell of me left. I began to see clearly that anything from that point on had hands in my trauma and how I saw myself because of it. It combined not only sexual acts, ideas, and desires, but my relationships, my state of mind, my career stump, my dislike of myself, and much of my anger.
Beginning again, I turned to recreating my relationship with personal intimacy; this included, but wasn’t limited to—masturbation, loving my body, taking care of my body (inside and out), and taking care of my skin. I realised that I had a trauma response to even my own hands. No wonder I struggled in sexual relationships with others, how I looked for it in the wrong places and with the wrong people. I was scared of what felt good, because I felt like he had infected everything.
Even now, I sometimes struggle, because healing is not a onetime game—it is evermore.
The sexual abuse took away my ability to separate it from any other sexual act. Even if I was sure I wanted it and begged my body for it, she wouldn’t allow it.
It is so important to take care of, love, respect, and listen to your womanhood as if she were an independent entity. Prioritise her in all things relative. I feel the difference in my entire being, moreover the core of my femininity, since living like this. And let me tell you—she rewards me for it! Don’t neglect your satisfaction, don’t stay silent with what feels wholly pleasurable for you. The power in your womanhood ladies—feel it, breathe it, be it.
I am proud to say that I’ve come so far. My lover is now a story more stimulating than one I could have dreamed of writing when in the pits of my misery.
The moment I freed myself from the grips of my trauma-induced, overly protective body memory armour was profound. I felt an explosive kick, and it was euphoric.
The change, the growth, the beauty of it—was through me, only me, and my power.
I reach out to anybody struggling with sexual trauma or a personal journey of their own—there is so much power within you. You have the strength, I promise.
Take back what was stolen—the power. Your body is just that. Yours.
I didn’t think I would get here.
One day, you will say the same thing. Let this beam as your beacon of hope. You will one day thrive, not merely survive.