Lessons from Trauma
This month is April, which means it is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. You may know that almost 8 years ago I was sexually assaulted.
Because of it being April and because of something that happened 2 weeks ago - I’ll share in a little bit - I wanted to create a series on what I have learned from trauma.
Who this series is for?
This series is for everyone. The lessons I have learned from trauma have changed me and have made me a stronger and better human being. They don’t just apply to sexual assault. They don’t just apply to healing from hardship. This series isn’t just for survivors of trauma, nor non-survivors. This series contains lessons that cross so many experiences and areas of life.
Before going any further I want to express that I will not be sharing any details as to what was physically done to me by the perpetrator beyond stating the one-sentence legal definition. If you are a survivor of sexual trauma I hope that very little of this series, if even any at all, is triggering for you. But the most important thing is your well-being, so please turn this off if any aspects of any episode are triggering.
Each part of the series will be between 5 to 10 minutes long, and that is by design. I want you to be able to soak in this information. I don’t want it to become overwhelming. I want you to walk away with new perspectives that are helpful in your continued growth as a person.
What is covered in this series?
The first few episodes will be geared towards awareness and education of sexual trauma. Then the episodes following it will have life lessons from what my trauma and healing process taught me.
From mental toughness, forgiveness, vulnerability, shame, and so much more.
You may be thinking, I don’t have anything to learn about sexual trauma, I’ll just wait until those next segments, but if you have not experienced sexual trauma then I beg you to listen to those episodes.
Here is why . . .
Before my trauma, I thought I knew everything there was to know about sexual trauma - but all my education had been from movies. I expected victims to be a certain way, and also perpetrators. I expected assaults to happen in certain types of places, and a swarm of other criteria.
Those misconceptions contributed to some of my shock after I was assaulted because the details around what happened to me didn’t fit the mold of what I had seen in movies. Which is why the next episode of this series is me using my story to help break down many misconceptions around sexual trauma.
After I became a survivor I realized the numerous misconceptions surrounding assault. What is even worse is I realized that those misconceptions hurt survivors and help perpetrators. Being educated on the misconceptions of sexual trauma is one of the most powerful tools against it.
Something Happened I Hoped Never Would
As I mentioned in the beginning, something recently happened that influenced me to create this series. Two weeks ago, something happened that I hoped would never happen. I came face to face with the man who assaulted me.
I was in the drive-thru line at Starbucks and when I pulled up to the window, the barista was the man who had assaulted me. The man who had raped me. The man who turned my entire world upside down almost 8 years ago.
Thankfully I had my mask and my sunglasses on, so I don’t think he knew who I was.
The rest of the day I was completely shaken up. I cried. I was angry. I cancelled plans I had and just stayed at home. I let my feelings have their space. I didn’t wall them off, I didn’t run from them, I purposefully sat in them and let them have the space they needed.
Then as the next few days went by I was good. I was good because of all the work I had done in the past 8 years in my healing journey.
I don’t expect to have zero bad days. That expectation can be very damaging. I explain why in a future episode in this series.
I know that occasionally something is going to happen either in my life or in a news story that is going to trip me up. But so far my track record for getting back up when I get knocked down is 100% - and I like those odds.
Remember that for YOUR life as well. So far your track record for making it though hard days is 100%. Whatever difficulty you may be facing in your life right now, don’t lose sight of all the days you have made it through to this very day.
As I reflected on the past 8 years I kept thinking of all that I had learned. Of all the hard work and time I put into my healing.
I talk about this more in a later episode, but very early on in my healing I made a commitment to myself. I was so angry at the amount of damage this trauma, this man had done to me that I made a commitment to myself that I was going to keep fighting for myself and for others until the amount of good that was able to come out of it far exceeded the amount of damage done.
Abuse of any kind (be it physical, emotional, mental, sexual, whatever kind it is - they are all about power and control. And I was going to keep fighting until I no longer felt like it had control over me and was pulling me down. Abuse sees victory over you as keeping you down in pieces. You have victory over abuse when you build something out of those pieces and rise again.
Let me be clear. I don’t believe everything that happens to you happens for your good. I know that is a controversial statement for some people. But I do believe everything that happens to you can be used for good. That may not sound like a big difference, but it is - and later in the series I have a whole episode to explain why.
That wraps up the introduction to this series on Lessons from Trauma. I hope you stay with me as the series continues. In the next week’s episode, I share my story to show the numerous damaging misconceptions around sexual trauma assault.
Until next time, remember that you are valuable and desperately needed in this world.