Hard to believe that it has been almost 6-months ago since I started my blog and started telling my story. I can honestly say that sharing my story has been the best decision I have ever made. There was a lot of risk involved and it was scary, but it has been a helpful story to share. I look at my self-confidence from even 6-months ago and I have come so far. I don’t often pat myself on the back, but I’m pretty darn proud of myself!
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I never thought much about this awareness until assault happened to me. Take a look around in your communities, there are probably a few quiet events happening for survivors. 2 years ago I was going to go to an event outside of Washington, DC for survivors. There they had people you could talk to for resources and counseling and they also had a time where you could publicly say that you are a sexual assault survivor. Very empowering moment. I wanted to go and do this really bad, and even asked a friend to come with me, but I just couldn’t do it. I was still a victim and couldn’t bring myself to publicly say that I was a sexual assault survivor.
I’ve had several people inquire about some helpful resources for dealing with sexual assault & abuse as well as some inspirational materials. Below I will highlight some of my favorite websites. In a future post I will highlight books that have helped me. I’m not being paid to advertise any of these books or websites, but they have been really helpful to me.
Once I started therapy to work through my assault and the impending depression, anxiety & PTSD I decided to immerse myself in all the information I could about how to get better. It is strange because there is so much information out there, yet I felt none of it pertained to me because I was in sheer denial that the assault happened.
RAINN is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the country. They had a lot of resources that I read through and relied on. I really didn’t know how I should be feeling or what I should be doing and the RAINN website helped me greatly. The one thing that I did not utilize was their 24-hour hotline. You can call at any time and talk with a trained professional about where you are at in your journey. I was often tempted to call, especially late at night, but I never did. It was scary for me to talk with a complete stranger over the phone, and for a long time I didn’t want to actually verbalize what I was feeling.
Joyful Heart Foundation
I found this website awhile after my assault and was inspired by their message. Their goal is to help survivors heal and reclaim a sense of joy in their lives.
Joyful Heart is an organization that was founded by the actress, Mariska Hargitay, from the popular show Law & Order: Special Victims’ Unit. I used to watch the show and was intrigued by the mystery of the cases, but now I can’t watch it anymore. Hits too close to home and I don’t need more reminders of my assault than I already have.
Mariska started this organization in 2004 and they have been gaining traction ever since. They are a huge champion for the rape kit backlog and are working on legislation in each state to help solve this problem. I was ‘lucky’ in that my kit was tested relatively quickly, but I am one of the few across the country. Joyful Heart is working to end the backlog.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
I discovered this website more recently and really appreciate the work they are doing. Their mission is to provide leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaborating, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research.
Since I have an education background, I greatly appreciate all the research they are doing. More & relevant research is needed.
I discovered SurvJustice about a year ago. I wish that I had come across them sooner because they would have been a big help in my case. They are based out of Washington, DC but are a national organization. SurvJustice is a national not-for-profit organization that increases the prospect of justice for all survivors of sexual violence through effective legal assistance, policy advocacy, and institutional training.
What makes me love this organization even more is it is a grass-roots non-profit started by Laura Dunn, who was sexually assaulted in college and decided to take matters into her own hands by becoming an advocate.
For those of you who see me on a regular basis you may notice a teal-colored bracelet on my right wrist. The bracelet supports SurvJustice and says ‘Be Brave’. I bought one to remind myself to keep on moving forward and not to be discouraged. I looked at that bracelet a lot in the courtroom the day of sentencing. I wear it almost every day to remind me of bravery in every situation.
These are some of the most helpful websites that I have and continue to rely on. There is no roadmap for success on being a victim and survivor, but these websites have helped me feel a sense of normalcy and a feeling that I’m not alone.
I hope that these websites can help you, or a loved one, in their time of need.
Do you have a website that has been helpful to you on your journey? Please let me know!