Trigger warning – discussion of sexual assault
“It gets better”, “time heals all wounds”, “you are not alone” are all common responses to someone going through a hard time and serve as a source of optimism when experiencing adversity. “You are not alone” is one I hear frequently when discussing experiences of sexual assault. I’ve heard it being said in conferences, from health professionals, resource guides and from friends. “You are not alone” is a resounding echo that although sexual assault is a traumatic experience, others have endured similar pain and can genuinely relate compassionately as part of the healing process. “You are not alone”, with all of its positive intentions, is a reality I find challenging to accept. You are not alone makes my skin crawl and heart ache.
You are not alone is a glaring reminder that so many people struggle with the aftermath of sexual assault. You are not alone is the reality that judicial systems consistently blame the victim for sexual assault, that rapists are often not held responsible for crimes and that sexual assault is one of the most difficult crimes to report. You are not alone is stark evidence of the rape culture we live in and the ingrained systems which allow it to thrive. You are not alone is frustrating and frightening; it makes me aware that others have felt the unwanted force of sexual assault, loss of control and helplessness. You are not alone reminds me of the violence of sexual assault and the crushing ache I feel that so many people have experienced this cruelty. You are not alone are the statistics that myself and so many people I know are apart of. You are not alone is an idea based in compassion and solidarity that I truly want to embrace but feel is an incredible challenge. I am angry and overwhelmed when I hear “you are not alone”. Despite my frustration towards you are not alone, I know it is powerful. You are not alone is a reminder that the realities of sexual assault, devastating numbers and structures of rape culture, must be addressed together and cannot be stopped alone. You are not alone reflects that there are different ways to heal and we can learn from each other to move forward and progress. You are not alone can spark bravery, motivation, ideas and action to address sexual assault head on and work towards deconstructing rape culture. You are not alone is complicated and comforting.
“You are not alone” is a complex reality.