No Longer the Victim

I was the victim of sexual exploitation.  Sexual exploitation is defined as, “ taking advantage of sexuality and attractiveness of a person to make a personal gain or profit.  It is the abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes.”  I was vulnerable, because I wanted to be loved.  This was used against me to get what he wanted, never what I wanted.

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it” —​ Maya Angelou

Today is International Women’s Day.  There are some good things and some bad things that are pushed as agenda on this day.  We as women should feel empowered to be the woman that God created us to be.  There are many people and movements in society that ruin how women are treated.  There is so much that is taken away from us by people who say they are fighting for us.  There is a tendency to victim blame, especially when it is women.  Now, I believe that God tells us in His Word that we are to dress modestly, BUT a woman’s outfit is no excuse for bad behavior.  I also believe that we do need to recognize and appreciate what the men around us do for good.  Being FOR women, should never mean being AGAINST men.    

Recently we have seen a surge of recognition about sexual assault and harassment with the #metoo movement.  One thing I can say positively about this movement is that it has opened up conversations about this topic that has been seen as taboo.  People are now becoming more comfortable in talking about and reporting assault and harassment, both of which are inappropriate.  But I also have some problems with this movement.

This movement seems to simplify the issues a little.  It equates someone asking a person to go on a date many times to someone actually touching another person inappropriately.  They are not the same thing.  The effect on the “victim” is not the same.  This is not meant to invalidate the feelings of anyone who feels victimized, but we must be careful to give the right amount of support to the victims.  The victim of sexual assault or exploitation will have numerous physical and psychological difficulties that can endure years and decades into a person’s life.  

In this country, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted.  That includes over 60,000 children a year; 321,500 over 12 in America alone.  1 of 6 women have been a victim and 1 of 33 men.  54% of victims are age 18-34.  94% of women suffer PTSD within two weeks of the attack.  These statistics are disheartening.  We have made it a topic that is taboo and we have blamed the victims for way too long.  There are many things that can be said about how to fix this problem, but this post is going to be simply tips for helping the victims.  

“Today in science class I learned every cell in our entire body is replaced every seven years. How lovely it is to know one day I will have a body you will never have touched” —​ L.M.

How to Help Someone You Care About

  • Listen.  Don’t judge.
  • Be there.  Especially if they are going to make a report or get medical attention, support them.  Go with them.
  • Offer support.  Encourage them to contact someone who can help them with the issues and long-term effects they will face.  (I have included some resources at the end of this post.)
  • Be patient.  Sharing your story is very scary.  There is no specific time that it takes to heal from this attack.  Don’t force them to do something they aren’t ready to do.
  • Encourage self-care.  Encourage them to do things to help themselves.  

Self-Care Topics After Trauma

  • Physical
    • Sleep — what sleep routines help you feel more rested?
    • Food — what meals make you feel healthy and strong?
    • Exercise — what activities have helped you feel more energy?
    • Routines — what routines have given you a sense of certainty and calmness?
  • Emotional
    • Fun / Leisure — what are some things that you look forward to?
    • Journal — write down your thoughts.
    • Meditation / Relaxation — what activities would you like to be a part of your schedule?
    • Inspirational reading — what author or website gives you inspiration to take one more step?
    • Friends — who makes you feel safe and supported?  Spend time with those people.
    • Special places — what places help you feel safe and grounded?  Go there when you can.

The key here is to take care of yourself.  Give yourself the time and patience to deal with everything that your brain is telling your body.  As you can, share your story … it may just help someone else! 

“You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage” —​ Alex Elle

Resources

  • Check out my podcast:  Out of the Ashes for some amazing interviews with some amazing people.  This podcast is specifically made for survivors of physical or sexual violence.
  • Rather than relist each of these resources, I have included the link to the RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) resource page.  https://www.rainn.org/national-resources-sexual-assault-survivors-and-their-loved-ones 
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline … 800.656.HOPE or online.rainn.org or in Spanish rainn.org/es 
  • In the Worthington, Minnesota area, we have Southwest Crisis Center.  
    • 24 HOUR SAFELINE (800) 376-4311
    • Youth Text Line (218)-666-8336​
    • Worthington: 507-376-4311 Pipestone: 507-825-5688  Luverne: 507-283-9917 Windom: 507-831-2244 Jackson: 507-800-1260

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