An open letter to sexual assault survivors on Thanksgiving
I’m thinking this week might be tough for you.
Maybe you aren’t feeling all that grateful this year. I mean, who really feels grateful for being sexually assaulted or abused? Maybe you are anxious about running into your perpetrator in your hometown. You’re planning out your routes, your social activities, your errands to avoid a run-in with him or her. You’ve rehearsed the conversation in your mind, again and again, just in case.
Maybe you are wondering whether to tell your parents about a more recent assault.
How will they respond? What will they say? Will they be angry or disappointed, or envelop you in their arms?
Maybe your home is where the assault occurred. And the thought of being in that place again makes you want to drink bottles and bottles of wine, or light fire to your bed. Maybe your family members were your perpetrators, yet you’ll sit around a big family dinner table, laughing and joking as if nothing had happened.
I want you to know that I see you. I feel you. I get it.
There are lots of things that make this week harder for us as the men and women who survived sexual assault and abuse.
Whether the trauma is fresh or you are solid in your healing path, this time of year can evoke emotions and memories you may not want to revisit. You don’t need to keep it all inside. You are responding in totally normal ways.
I want you to know that you have permission – not that you need it – to take care of yourself this week. Find a yoga class. Download a relaxation app. Lose yourself in a new book. Go to the woods and rage at the trees – they can take it. Cry into your pillow with music blaring. Don’t go home at all, and enjoy the peace and quiet of an empty dorm room or apartment. Call or text a hotline.
Take care of yourself. You deserve it. You always deserve it.
I want you to know I’m grateful for you. I’m grateful that you survived, that you put one foot in front of the other, that you breathe in and out again and again.
I’m grateful to the people in your life who love you, who hold you in their thoughts and hearts. I believe in a day when we can all be healed. I’m grateful to the people who make funny memes and videos so we can all find a little levity, even when things might feel dark.
Thanksgiving will get better, I promise. Every day, every year, we have the chance to heal a little bit more.
When you sit down for dinner this year, please know that you are not alone.
With love and solidarity,