HealthSex & Gender

survivors and victims of sexual assault have every right to be angry

April 5, 2018
177 Picks
By Lara Witt* / WearYourVoice Mag, AFROPUNK contributor

[TW: mention of sexual assault and the word r/pe]

The beginning of April marks the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM #SAAM2018). Victims and survivors of sexual assault who are vocal about our experiences with rape and rape culture usually find ourselves advocating for justice, or explaining the ways in which our toxic culture creates environments so unsustainable and difficult to endure, that we crumble under the weight of our past and present.

Healing isn’t ever truly over, healing is non-linear and it is a lifelong process and this world does not allow for victims and survivors to actually have time to heal away from patriarchy, white supremacy or capitalism — there is no escape. However, for those of us invested in providing safer spaces for victims of sexual violence, we do our best to create smaller worlds where healing is mindful and possible.

As a victim of sexual violence, I have found different ways to stitch myself back together but with incredible pain came the willingness to put myself and my well-being first. For women and femmes of color, our everyday lived experiences can trigger the worst and it is essential that we set aside daily time for ourselves and our healing. What that time looks like is up to you, but I encourage you to sit quietly, breathing deeply with your eyes gently closed — imagine your favorite space, your gentlest, happiest memory or your ideal way to spend your time and go there — spend time with yourself and your own calm and happiness. Come back when you are ready and know that that space is always there for you to rest in, it is untouchable by anyone else, it is sacred.

We also need tangible reminders to be kinder to ourselves — it is a bad habit of mine to be completely and unflinchingly difficult with myself. I am mad at myself for not being more, for not having more, for not being able to be everything. I have made steps to be gentle with myself, to forgive myself for what I cannot do and to also allow myself to simply be ok with not being everything to everyone.

I don’t owe anyone anything, I live as an empathetic, compassionate and good person and my self-care doesn’t harm anyone. I have quieted the internalized negative voices by speaking those voices out loud, by recognizing their unnecessary hostility and by affirming the validity of my existence, my experiences and emotions — even anger. Anger, beyond happiness, has been a driving force and a focused laser beam which has led me to some of the most cathartic moments of self-care. My anger is healing, it allows me to write with intensity and compassion for the most marginalized. It is an energy I welcome because I have learned how to use it for positive change.

Women and femmes of color have a lot to be angry about and it is justified rage. This month, Wear Your Voice will feature pieces for and by victims and survivors of sexual violence, even the pieces which highlight our anger. We welcome the range of emotions and experiences which are a part of healing from sexual assault — acknowledging the power of our anger, happiness, self-love and compassion is a necessary step forward against those who harm us directly and indirectly. We no longer have the time or space for those who see our boundaries as barriers to their entitlement. Our spaces are our own.

This post is in partnership with WearYourVoiceMag

*WYV’s Managing Editor, Lara Witt is an intersectional feminist writer, editor, digital media consultant and activist based in Philadelphia, PA. She writes about self-care, pop culture and deconstructing systems of oppression. Born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, she moved to Philadelphia in 2010 where she received her BA in Journalism from Temple University and interned at the Philadelphia Daily News as a full-time news intern and reporter. Following her internship & graduation she became increasingly committed to writing freelance for feminist and anti-racist publications like BUST, Rewire, Blavity and Philadelphia Printworks. She currently freelances for publications like Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Allure and more. Witt’s goal is to provide platforms for marginalized voices and those who wish to learn more about intersectional feminism and anti-fascist resistance.