One of the most crucial parts of my healing journey as a survivor of sexual violence was when I became an advocate for myself and for other survivors. When the opportunity presented itself there was never a doubt in my mind that I would step up and advocate on behalf of others like myself or to prevent someone from experiencing what I had experienced. However, being a survivor, who is also an advocate, can take its toll. It can be exhausting. Emotionally draining. Not to mention triggering and at times thankless. Yet, it is survivor-advocates who have been at the forefront of anti-sexual violence and prevention activism. Ensuring that our fellow survivors are heard, cared for, and centered, in policy, the media, and more. It is because of fellow survivor-advocates that I learned to stop blaming myself and to take ownership of my power as a survivor.
As January ends, we know that it has been a rough month for survivors. From the #SurvivingRKelly documentary to the closing of the notice and comment period on the newly proposed Title IX regulations and everything in-between. Survivor-advocates have endured this while also showing up for other survivors: from writing op-eds, to writing viewer guides, to checking on each other, and making themselves available for those who need a safe place to process it all. Therefore, as we enter February, I want to show my love to survivor-advocates, may you always know how deserving you are.
Thank you for showing up when no one else would.
Thank you for believing the stories that others brushed off.
Thank you for choosing yourself. For choosing us.
Thank you for taking breaks when necessary. For prioritizing your healing in the midst of the work. For knowing that you cannot pour from an empty cup and being mindful of not bleeding onto those you try to help.
Thank you for your honesty. For holding up a mirror to us all, at times even other survivors, so we may see how we are complicit in rape culture.
Thank you for your care. For honoring that we all are deserving of healing, even perpetrators of violence, while centering survivors in the process.
My hope for you today is that you know how appreciated you are. That even on the days when it seems all of this work may be in vain, there are people in this world so grateful for your presence. There are people who need you to keep raising hell until they have the courage or access to raise it for themselves.
Please know though, you are deserving of rest. We will be here to hold it down and care for you until you are ready to raise hell again.
Please know that you are deserving of the same privacy and discretion you extend to others. You too, do not owe anyone your story.
Survivor-advocate, there would be no movement without you. Know this, be empowered by this, and never allow anyone to de-center you.
Thank you for all you are and all you do. If you never did anything else, you have already done enough.
A fellow survivor-advocate