Content Warning: Sexual Assault, Trauma
This week, amidst high profile allegations, #MeToo has taken social media by storm- highlighting both the severity and scope of sexual assault. We interviewed Raz, a sexual assault survivor, to learn more about their experience.
World Mental Health Day was one week ago today, and to raise awareness about the problems many face, we’ve conducted a number of e-interviews. One of the issues we had planned to address was trauma, and in an effort to help others, Raz was kind enough to share their experience with us.
Raz is a recent college graduate and writer with a bright personality. In college, they graduated with a degree in Psychology, with additional studies in Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
They are also the survivor of multiple sexual assaults. They’ve shared a poem with us as well as answers to the following, we hope that sharing these will help educate and support others.
Can you share a little bit about the experiences you’ve had?
I’ve been sexually assaulted more than once, each by a different guy (which is why I use “he” in the poem instead of something more gender neutral). Each of them were people that I trusted, and, not that I’m glad that it happened, but I know that I’ve grown a lot and I hope that this poem helps others to heal and grow too.
How does your poem relate to these experiences?
This poem was inspired by the fact that cells in the body die and regenerate every so often. To me, this was an important revelation because, eventually, my body will no longer be the same body that was sexually assaulted.
Survivors often feel like they’ve been ruined or are dirty because of what happened (this is often perpetuated by what others say about it too and what is often said in popular media), so even if someone feels that way, it’s important to keep in mind that in a few years, you’ll have a completely different body; one that the attacker has never touched.
In your poem, you discuss shedding your cocoon, what does mean to you?
Like I said before: it was inspired by the regeneration of cells. But also, after the cocoon is shed, the caterpillar turns into a more beautiful version of its previous self. I try to keep this in mind whenever I’m feeling angry or depressed about what happened.
It was a terrible experience, but I’ve grown into somebody who is more compassionate and passionate about helping others. Again, I’m not happy that it happened, but I know how strong of a person I am now. I never would have known if it hadn’t happened.
Is there anything you want to tell other survivors?
To always reach out to others or to a hotline or therapist if you need help. The first couple of years were really hard for me, but eventually, you’ll start to feel like yourself again. Every so often, I’ll have a relapse, but I’m doing a lot better than I used to. Just stay strong and stay true to yourself, and things will get better.
It’s important to know that if you’re a survivor, you’re never alone. There are so many people who have gone through the experience. Also, that it’s never your fault and that nothing about you is “ruined”, even when people try to tell you otherwise.
We’d like to thank Raz for sharing with us, their poem is below.
You shed your skin
It doesn’t matter where he went in
Now you’re healing
You’ve shed your skin
Don’t let people tell you that you’re ruined
Don’t let people tell you that you’re no longer you
Well, in a sense that sort of is true
See, your skin is a cocoon,
You don’t need it anymore.
It was a part of you once
But now it’s time to grow.
You’ve shed your skin
And beneath it– wings!
You don’t have to worry about being pulled down
There is nothing for you on the ground It is time to fly!
Let others know
There is hope
You are never alone
Others are shedding their skin too
We’re too big for our small cocoons
We’ll all fly together
We are always healing
There is always hope