Throughout April, Rest for Resistance is proud to feature writing for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The following content is related to sexual violence and processing trauma.
I didn't always call it sexual assault. For a long time I didn't call it anything, because I didn't think about. I remember after it happened, coming back to my room and going on with my night. I felt a bit numb but it was late at night, so that was to be expected.
But then Camp happened in the summer. A place where you were able to express yourself in whatever way felt good to you. Where you felt a sense of community and safety. This was a first for me. To be in a supportive community of this scale. It was here that I learned about consent. It wasn't the first time I had heard about it. Of course I had heard about it. And I considered myself quite knowledgeable in regards to other people's consent. But not my own. Once I heard about it and related it to me, I felt shook up. Had I been sexually assaulted, and more over, could I ever tell anyone? Had I deserved it?
Jump forward a few months. The #metoo movement takes foot. Except I felt so silenced. After all, I had voluntarily been with those people. After all, I got into that car, knowing full well that I couldn't trust him completely. After all, I had used sex for self harm. After all, I had exchanged my bodies numerous times for food when I had no more money. I remember numerous times where it would be brought up casually in conversation, or when a drunk friend would bring up a rape joke, and ....my reaction. How I would be angry, or dissociative, or numb to the world around me. But despite all this I still asked myself "Who was I to speak in this movement?".
But... therapy taught me that I could speak up. And that my trauma was all linked. That there was web of all these factors informing the ways that I interacted with the world. I realized that I sought out these situations, because I didn't care about my body. Because I had internalized racism from the way that white people raised me (I was adopted). That I had internalized transmisogyny from the society around me. That I had very intense and real attachment anxiety.
These days i'm still coming to terms with everything. My friends tell me that healing is not a linear process, and that gives me hope. I still fear that i'll never be enough sexually for people. I fear that setting boundaries will drive people away. But through all this i've learned that my best friend is also going a similar process, and we even have a personal secret hand signal when we're triggered in group settings. I also have a partner that likes to talk about boundaries, and honestly, he helped me find respect for myself again.
And above all, i'm learning to have a different relationship with my body. It doesn't respond the way I want it to, especially on estrogen and on anti depressants. I have extremely noticeable stretch marks spreading to new areas everyday. I'm gaining weight like it's no one's business, and top of it all, I have self harm scars on my arm. But even with all of this, I'm trying to tell myself that this body is deserving of love. That this body deserves to feel like home. I tell myself that my stretch marks are like free tattoos and that my body doesn't owe anything to anyone.
I don't know where my healing journey is next, but I know that I will keep going.
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About Nicole Jones Abad:
Nicole is a 22-year-old student currently in university. She is very proudly from Ecuador and trans. She likes fluffy cats, and long walks on the beach. After graduation she is planning to explore the field of communications and public relations with the end goal of community organizing and advocacy."
About Blache Marie:
Blache Marie is a poet, artist and healer recovering from trauma while growing up in the Midwest and learning to breathe again, deeply. Their collective For Brown Bleeders is a gift to other qtpoc who are learning to breathe again. They are based Ithaca, NY.