Sexual Assault Awareness month: advice from a survivor

HAYDYN WALLENDER, Evergreen reporter

This month is nationally known as Sexual Assault Awareness month. For thousands of men and women across the world, April is a month of struggle. It is a month of remembrance, pain and continuous challenges and not-so-cheerful days.

It can also be a month to celebrate. If you’re a survivor, like me, it’s a month that you thought you may never see.

Assault, whether sexual or physical, takes a toll on the human body. There are few reports on cases that take place, but it should be known that each case is unique to that person. Each “scenario” has a different outcome, no matter if it was reported or not. Most of the time, they are not.

Assault is something I wish no one ever experienced in their lifetime. No one deserves the pain and the depression and the trauma that comes with it.

This month can really f-cking suck. But eventually, this month can become not only a positive reminder but a month of resilience.

April is a month to remind you that you are strong. That you are capable of handling the toughest of situations. That you are breathing and doing the damn best you can right now in this moment because you don’t know of any other way.

I’ve been there. I’ve struggled through it too. And it can be hard. It can be so, unbelievably challenging to feel like your world is literally falling apart around you.

But there are resources. ATVP, or Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, has an open hotline to help you talk through your assault if you would like to. They provide open, safe shelters for survivors of assault. They also have the ability to provide some legal advice, should you choose to go that route, and will stand by you in court as an advocate.

These resources are free, accessible and waiting for you to help you in whatever way they can.

Cougar Health Services also provides students counseling and psychological assistance. But if you cannot leave your location, or you’re feeling too afraid to talk to someone face-to-face, there are other anonymous hotlines with people trained to help you talk through your situation. 

The fight isn’t over. It will never be over. But I want you to know there are people.

People to help you in whatever place you are in right this second. People just like you who have been through this. Who struggled in a similar way to how you or a loved one could be struggling right now.

People who hoped day and night that things would get better.

And let me tell you: IT DOES GET BETTER.

So don’t look at the month of April as an attack or a painful part of your past. Don’t feel that you need to cover up or hide that part of your past, or feel like the wound you have needs to be healed immediately.

Things take time. It takes a lot of time. But I want you to take comfort in the knowledge that there are thousands of men and women who stand with you.

You are never alone. And you won’t ever have to be.


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