It seems there is a ‘day’ for everything now. National Ice Cream Day, National Cat Day, National Sibling Day and the list goes on. I mostly ignore these days because I tend to celebrate my cat, sister & ice cream on a daily basis. I have enough to keep track of besides what special ‘day’ it is.
Once you or a family member are a survivor of something you take notice of those special days and months. You might donate money to the cause, do a walk, jump in a lake (polar plunge) or post things on social media. I know that I pay attention when it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October because I have several family & friends who are currently fighting breast cancer and others who have survived as well. I also pay attention when it is Crohn’s & Colitis Week in December since my sister and several friends suffer from these diseases.
I wish that we didn’t have to have this month of awareness for sexual assault, but as we’ve seen over the past 9 months, there is a serious problem in this country with sexual assault, harassment and abuse. We have these months to build awareness to those of us who would never think of learning about sexual assault. Trust me, I don’t need to be celebrated for being assaulted and surviving. But, it would mean the world to me if you learned how to support victims of assault and help make it stop. Be an advocate. Be a friend.
As I have learned, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). I always thought of April as the beginning of spring and my departed Grandma’s birthday. Now, April has a new meaning for me and one that I’m still working on accepting.
This month had many events happening across the country to raise awareness, but the most important thing I am participating in is saying ‘thank you’.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my new normal of being a rape survivor. The day of the assault and the week after have pretty much faded in my memory (after a lot of work). I’m also doing really well on working through my PTSD, anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, my new normal is that I will always be a survivor, but it doesn’t have to define me.
So, to bring awareness to Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) on this last day of April, I would like to say thank you:
Thank you to my family
for making several trips to be with me in Washington, DC
for letting me move back home and not feel awkward
for letting me get my ‘therapy cat’, Guppie, even though the household is allergic
for letting me sleep…A LOT
for keeping tabs on me, but still leaving me alone
for letting me take over the house & garage with all my ‘stuff’
for continually looking for jobs for me while I turn most of them down
for the unconditional love
Thank you to my friends
Who ask, “how are you doing, today?”
Thank you for the hugs (when I am comfortable with them)
Thank you for the knowing eyes of sadness and struggle
Thank you for the notes of encouragement
Thank you for noticing me and my assault. Simply being acknowledged is a big deal.
Thank you for the laughter
Thank you for letting me have a pity party, but not for too long
Thank you for asking about other aspects of my life besides the assault
Thank you for not pretending that the assault didn’t happen
Thank you for sharing my story & blog so that others may learn and heal
Thank you to my country neighbors and old friends who have allowed me to come home as the prodigal with grace
Thank you to those who have reached out to me with your own story
Thank you for the quotes, books, podcasts, and websites that friends think that I may like or gain something from
Thank you for the prayers. Lots of prayers.
Thank you to the people who encourage me to ‘step out’ into my greatness
Thank you to old friends in MN who are reaching out to have coffee and catch up
Thank you to the Washington National’s baseball team for keeping me occupied for 4 seasons of baseball
Thank you to my baseball friends in DC for keeping me entertained & laughing
Thank you to my healthcare teams in MN and in DC
Thank you to the churches I attended in DC, Waterfront Church & National Community Church
Thank you to my Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) for your gentle care
Thank you to the many detectives who worked on my case, especially Detective 3
Thank you to my county-appointed advocate
Thank you to my prosecuting attorney
Thank you to my friends who came with me to appointments and court dates
Thank you to my former staff in DC for being true pillars of strength in my darkest times
Thank you to the people who came and got/bought all my furniture in DC so I didn’t have to haul it to MN because I wanted a fresh start
Thank you to my rescue cat, Guppie, for letting me nurse her back to health and give her lots of hugs, even though I don’t think she appreciates them.
Thank you for making me laugh
Thank you for the encouragement
Thank you for offering to listen, even though I don’t have much to say most of the time
Thank you for seeing the real me
Thank you for rallying behind me as I continue this path of recovery
Thank you for not shutting me out
Thank you to the people reaching out with speaking opportunities
Thank you for the encouragement to write a book
Thank you to Minnesota for being my landing pad
Thank you to my friends at MN 4-H for believing in my talents
Thank you to each & every one of you reading this blog
Most importantly, thank you to the Lord for carrying me through this tragic storm, making me rest and getting back on my feet one step at a time.
I could obviously go on & on with thanks. I am one blessed woman.
With All My Appreciation,