It’s been 9,862 days since my sexual assault occured 27 years ago today. Over the decades, I have been tormented by fear, anxiety, and loss of trust in the world. I have wept, grieved, and experienced one of the most horrific things a woman can endure.
But today, I stand here a stronger woman. The man who sodomized me did not destroy me. The man who robbed me did not steal my pursuit of happiness. The man who fled from that hotel room didn’t have within him what I had. I had resilence. Determination. God’s grace. The love of family.
I came out the victor.
But how about all the other women who get harrassed, assaulted, raped? Will they recover? Will they have the belief to not give up hope of restoration?
Restoration came to me from many different places. In honor of 27 years, I’ll give you 27 of the most important things that helped me.
Counseling from a Psychologist
Counseling from a Psychiatrist
Beth Moore Bible Study
Community Bible Study
Writing my memoir
Being a mentor to other survivors
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
The Anxiety Disease by David Sheehan, MD
Writing a blog
Writing in a journal
Speaking at sexual assault conferences
Reading about post traumatic stress disorder
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Learning to say no
Recognizing when exhaustion can turn into depression
Learning about anxiety and depression and how they are cousins and often travel together
Two months ago, The White House rolled out “It’s on Us,” a sexual assault prevention and awareness program aimed at changing campus culture regarding rape and sexual assault. “It’s On Us” aims to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault, by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it. The campaign reflects the belief that sexual assault isn’t just an issue involving a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but one in which all collegiates also have a role to play.
The commitment rests on creating an environment – be it a fraternity house, dorm room, a party, a bar or club, or the greater college campus – where sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported. This effort will augment student-led efforts already underway across the United States, and will focus particularly on motivating college men to get involved.
This month, I had the opportunity to speak about “It’s On Us” to several hundred students at Troy University. I based my speech on the notion that I believe Generation Z, unlike any generation before them, can help combat sexual assault on campuses. I believe Generation Z can be agents of change because they have a sense of social justice, philanthropy and maturity –caused from growing up during one of the most severe economic recessions in history. A great example of this is when students at Columbia University carried a mattress around on behalf of a girl in protest that her alleged rapist was not expelled.
With Generation Z’s unique qualities, coupled with a program that promotes being an active bystander, our chances are great to make the needed changes on campuses to keep young women safe.
If you know of a college or university that needs to hear my message, I will be happy to speak!