SAAM: Sexual Assault And Moving on

Cross-listed with S&M: Anonymous, Not Monogamous

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the day that a stranger appeared suddenly in my life and changed the trajectory of my future. He and I are not celebrating this anniversary with a romantic dinner, a getaway weekend, or love-making. He and I do not even know each other. He probably doesn’t commemorate the first and last time we met like I do. I’m sure he has not lost sleep over thinking about me, is not haunted by my memory – I may even just have been one of many for him, but I will never know.

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the day that a stranger raped me. The day that I was unwillingly committed to a lifelong relationship with a memory of a human being, a memory of an experience. The day that I tried to bury deep into my mind, to deny to myself and others for over a year afterwards. The day that spiraled me into sixteen months of celibacy and years of shame, self-hatred, self-neglect. The day that sent me literally and figuratively running. The day that far too many women and girls can relate to.

Yesterday was also a benchmark of empowerment. Over the past four years, I have slowly but surely begun to learn from this experience of sexual violence. And while I still have a long road of progress ahead of me, I can finally claim some more uplifting conclusions. The one thing I have thought about the most is that while I did not choose this experience, I DO choose how I react to it, and how I would like to move forward in my life with this memory. So although this realization unfolded (quite) slowly over the past four years, I can finally fully appreciate the fact that while I cannot nor have not been able to fully control what another person does to my body, I can always control what another person does to my mind.

It is essential that women who share this experience feel they can openly speak about it – even if it’s just with a friend. I am unbelievably lucky to have a few people in my life who are incredibly compassionate, patient, and understanding – and I honestly do not think I would have been at this point (blogging about my experience) if it had not been for this nurturing environment conducive to openness. That same environment on a societal level is close to nonexistent. While there are some amazing organizations out there aimed at various issues involving rape culture, there is a massively gaping hole in which the majority of society’s disinterest falls into. There is a blurry line between being apathetic and being a bystander to injustices.

The word “anniversary” was actually first used to signify the day of a person’s death (“returning annually”), and the word is now used to celebrate a happy past event that occurred on the same day. If you have experienced sexual violence, this is how I would like for you to think of what happened – as both a mourning and a celebration, an allowance of overlap that neither denies your suffering nor your fortitude. Because for me, there is absolutely a part of my mind and heart that needs to mourn what happened to me; but the other part of me wants to celebrate the fact that I am a survivor, that I am a strong woman choosing to move forwardwhile carrying this memory.

SO, happy anniversary rapist, and thank you for choosing the month of April so I can celebrate SAAM ironically. Today alone, 600 women will probably experience sexual violence, marking 600 new “anniversaries” without “proposals” (thank you NOW).

Unlike millions of women, YOU have a choice. Become active today, because tomorrow is always too late.

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  1. Posted April 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    It is unfortunate that the acronym is SAAM because that happens to be the name of a person who sexually abused me, mostly mentally. I applaud you for your strength in addressing this issue, and I wish you the best of luck in your healing process.

  2. Posted April 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Yes, good luck in your healing process. It’s a little tricky for me to think of celebrating being a survivor on my r-anniversary, due to the guy having killed some other kids and me dealing with what’s know as “survivor’s guilt” at different times. What I found worked was to start making a donation to a sexual assault crisis center on the anniversary as a way to make something useful out of it. I found Safe Horizon in NYC, which provides services to survivors of rape as well as domestic violence, homeless youth(a population extremely vulnerable to sexual violence) and the like. RAINN is also a good national network, but I started to give to a specifically local center after Bloomberg cut funding for those types of services.

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