27 April, 2010

Strength stemming from trauma

What are the strengths that I've developed as a result of surviving my sexual assault. I've become incredibly confident in my sexuality and very open to talking about it with friends and strangers. I can say "penis," "labia," "clitoris," "vagina" in front of a crowd of 100 people and not flinch. It has shaped what I want to do with my life and made me passionate about helping survivors, educating, and raising awareness about acquaintance rape. It has driven me forward when I may have otherwise hung back. It has allowed me to reach out, make contacts in the sexual assault prevention community, and earn their respect. It has led me to have a nationally published study guide through SOC and make some decent money. It has given me an ever-present conversation piece that can make a conversation either awkward or intense with one sentence: "I was raped." It has made me passionate about women's issues, especially those regarding linguistics and why we use such phrases as "slut," "easy," and "I really got 'raped' by that test." It has allowed me to connect with people whom I might have otherwise missed because we share a common thread, albeit a traumatic one. It has gotten me to write intense papers that have been accepted to conferences nationally and internationally. It has led me to speak openly about the rape(s) with my parents, especially my father who finally understands why his reaction to my confession as a teenager was entirely inappropriate. "It's not like he had a knife to your throat, it could have been worse" was not the response I was seeking when I told you that I was raped by an acquaintance at 13. It has given me the experience necessary to say with conviction that it is VITAL to ask your partner before you assume that he/she wants you to put your fingers/objects/penis there. It has given me anger, which has fueled me and kept me motivated even in the face of rejection and despair. It has given me a range of intimate experiences, some good, some bad, but all ones that taught me something important about myself and sexual interactions. It has turned me into someone who self identifies as "kinky" and is comfortable in a group of like-minded individuals. It has caused me to be much more open minded about sexual preferences, fantasies, and kinks than I might have been otherwise. My rape has given me drive and determination, perseverance and kink, and has allowed me to meet people where they are because we have common ground. I can easily identify with rape survivors and I work well with them - it has given me the stamina to never tire of listening to their stories and helping to shoulder their pain.