I once read something to the effect of “Victims have no choice in becoming victims, but after it happens, victims are the only people who can make the choice to become survivors.”
The first part of that statement can be the hardest part for a person who has been sexually abused or assaulted to accept. Many victims believe that what happened to them was their fault. That if they’d done this and this and this, they could have prevented it. Sometimes other people imply this by asking questions like, “Why were you in that place? Dressed like that? Acting like that? Why didn't you fight back?"
Being able to recognize the truth—that the abuser is the one at fault—isn’t a realization that always comes easily. A victim can suffer years of confusion, pain, and guilt before getting to that point.
For some, the thing that turns things around might be watching an episode of Oprah and hearing perpetrators of child abuse/rape admit that there was absolutely nothing their victims could have done to stop them from hurting them, from taking what they wanted.
It can be someone who knows of your experience, looking into your eyes and gently repeating “It wasn’t your fault” until it sinks in and you finally, one day, start to believe them.
It can be reading a book like SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson that shows the horror of rape and the difficult aftermath through a victim’s eyes. Delving into Melinda’s thoughts, feeling her pain—it can help. It has helped. So many lives have been changed by this book. So many victims have read and related to Melinda’s story and then found the strength within themselves to become survivors.
Once upon a time, I was a girl who needed a book like SPEAK. I didn’t have access to it because it hadn’t been written yet.
But it exists now.
Don’t let Welsey Scroggins silence this story. Don’t let anyone keep this book out of the hands of the girls, boys, women, and men who need it.
Speak up. Speak loudly.