We’re a week into April already and in case you didn’t know, it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I know this because I am a survivor and the very first place I shared publicly about my assault was on this blog eight years ago this very month. This is also the place where I shared my “Why I Didn’t Report” post when the Kavanaugh hearings were happening and where I wrote about my trip with other survivors to D.C. to protest his confirmation a little over three-and-a-half years ago. So it is both fitting and an ironic kick in the pants to be coming to the blog now with a trigger compelling me to write.
To be clear, the situation I was drawn into recently was not sexual in nature and wasn’t directed at me; however it involved someone entwined with my heart and the main takeaway that I will share here is that one person’s word against another’s was not enough to be believed.
Witnessing this happen shook me and sent me on a spiral that eventually made me realize, this is my very own fear – that if I confronted my own assaulter, he would simply say he didn’t do it and because there would be no evidence or proof, that would be it. His denial would in fact deny me the dignity and respect of belief. Clearly I have some work in therapy to do on this, for my own self, but so, too, do we as a society, because we still aren’t in a place where a person’s word of “This. Happened.” is enough to warrant even an apology much less ownership if the other person flat out denies us. Trust me, I realize I’m coming from a place of trauma and trauma spiral right now, but I don’t think I’m out of line for thinking this way.
So here’s my April SAAM charge to you: think about why one person’s word gets to negate a situation but one person’s word isn’t enough to confirm it. Think about how important belief can be to survivors or even people in situations that don’t involve sexual violence but rather power struggles and an overstep of authority because the same theory and question apply there, too.
One final note: I have no plans to disclose details about the situation I referenced here. I shared what I did to explain where my head and heart are right now and I hope that this month of all months, folks can take a moment to consider how we might start to change these dynamics. If you need more information on supporting survivors or getting support yourself, please consider this resource.