Lessons Learned From A Rape Survivor 

Twenty-four years, four months and three days. Only about a third of the lifespan of an average person. Though this may be young, I have learned what people shouldn’t have to learn and have experienced what I wish no one to experience. Much of my history I wish to share, but I know not where to start.

1. Love who you are first. And respect yourself.

Especially in today’s society “love who you are” can be applied to many different aspects. Learning your personal meanings of your roles, goals, your gender, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, political views, morals, and values are all important things to learn and love about yourself. These aspects of yourself change nearly perpetual. Example: I was 18 when I first considered myself an adult, and now at 24 I barely believe I constitute as an adult. The older I get and the more I learn about myself and the world the more I realize how little I know. It is hard for me to learn to love myself through my many faults and failures, but no one can love you like you love yourself. Once you know who you are and love your ever changing self, respect that person and pretect that person.

Twenty-one years, ten months, and four days. This is the age I was when I actively stopped loving myself enough to respect myself. This was the day I lost my virginity.  I grew up in a Christian household and community where it was taught that sex was meant to be saved for marriage. Even the most liberal in the congregation believed sex was meant to be saved for someone you believed you will marry. Being twenty-one, one would hope I would have been astute enough to have sex with someone meaningful. However that is far from reality. A one night stand whom I had known for less than an hour and of which I cannot recal the name. In my personal diary I wrote:

I’m forgetting what it meant to be me. He didn’t even know it was my first time. He didn’t even care about me. This isn’t what I wanted. As soon as it was over, I felt my heart sink. I can still smell him on me. His cologne intoxicates my whole being.

I knew in that moment that I had disrespected myself. But this theme of disrespect of myself continued. Eventually it lead me to a relationship riddled with domestic abuse and rape. This was the day I hit rock bottom. Only with the help of friend and family that loved and respected me more than I did myself was I able to escape the situation alive. This is my biggest hurdle. I am currently still learning how to fully pick myself back up.
Learn from me: love yourself, respect yourself, protect yourself.

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