3 Things I Learned from NOT Participating in Sexual Assault Awareness Week

The colors of red, white and blue have been scrawled across every media outlet continuously for the past month. With the election wrapping up, I had been toying with the idea of writing a post Trump election blog, but decided to write about an experience that happened this evening.

This past week I read an ad in our local university paper, urging students to engage in a week long campaign to raise awareness about sexual assault; to share experiences through communal decoration, art exhibits and solidarity in victim/survivor-hood. Being a survivor of multiple experiences, I felt compelled to volunteer in assisting the young lady running the event. I sent her an email outlining my previous experiences, which include marching in protest against rape culture, violence against women and family violence. I am currently wearing the shirt from the campaign as I write this blog post. *Oh the irony of my life*

The young lady called me on the phone this evening and wanted to know what events I would be signing up for, and wanted my feedback as to what, if any, events being held would be traumatic to the survivors. I asked this lady what her experience/skill was for hosting a week long event. To bottom line it for inquiring minds; I wanted to know if she was also a survivor. How can one who has never experienced a devastating event such as sexual assault, begin to even fathom or walk alongside survivors?

The lady declined to comment, causing me to ponder 3 things, which I will share with you.

  1. Anger

I wanted to know her victimization credentials. The injustice in not being able to control another’s actions baffled me. There was a strict contrast between her words of wanting to help and the reluctance, dare I say, refusal, to share left me irate, frustrated and feeling powerless. I did not have power in the sexual assaults; I did not have power in this brief conversation.

Allowing ourselves to feel angry is human. As I began to take deep breaths and calm down, I was reminded that part of self love and self care involves being kind to ourselves and allowing to feel a wide range of emotions in a healthy, constructive way, which leads me to my next point: respect.

  1. Respect of Others

Unfortunately, I have not yet mastered the concept of mind control. *Sighs.* And so, until my super powers manifest as I fully expect them to around dirty thirty, *wink wink* I am reduced to respecting and validating her choice to not disclose, as much as I respect my own position to share my story. I politely thanked her for the opportunity to engage in this event, but respectfully declined.

While sharing this day in the life with a friend of mine, she suggested that I could start my own campaign at my school to make sure that, as a survivor, I could see that proper care and dignity is taken to create a safe space for others to share. How can others be expected to share if the leader chose not to? This event was reminiscent of 2015 when the Pro Life Club chose to cover about 10 8 foot windows with white crosses and aborted fetus pictures to raise awareness about, “murdered babies.” This club chose to make a statement instead of give a voice to those who had abortions, were contemplating or knew someone who terminated a pregnancy.

Regardless of the motives of both events, In my opinion, it was a missed opportunity to give a platform to those who otherwise would not have an outlet to do so, which brings me to my third point.

  1. A Platform Opportunity

While I have decided not to pursue a simultaneous Sexual Assault Awareness  Week, or avidly protest theirs, I chose another route. I chose to share with you; Kindness and respect go further than disrespect and spitefulness ever could. After all, I aspire to spread as much light, love, sparkles (YASSSSSS girl, I said sparkles), happiness and peace.be-kind

So what does this mean for you? A non-university student, who may or may not have had a similar experience? Two things. First. Be kind to yourself always. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions you are and let them out. “Better out than in, I always say,” Says Shrek. Second, I urge you, in your confrontations or less than optimal situations to approach others with differing opinions with light and an ounce of love. Only an ounce though, we wouldn’t want to overdo it, now would we? 😉

Until next time,

– L

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