Open Letter From a Survivor
"I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it"
— Maya Angelou
The wise words of Maya Angelou have carried me through many life events but this quote weighs heavily on me while writing this piece. My name is Cheyenne Tyler Jacobs and April is Sexual Violence awareness month and being not only an advocate but a survivor, I felt the need to express a narrative that I have newly stepped into in my healing. Often when I would sit in support groups or read articles they had the focus of overcoming that trauma and seeking justice. Both of which I see as important and I believe in looking at sexual assault, justice specifically is what you define it to be.
Throughout all the support groups, articles, and documentaries one conversation no one ever had with me was how to love again. I had attempted therapy three times before I found someone who I felt could truly guide me (I would like to give a short plug to black therapists because you are all so important). Therapy combined with my spiritual healing allowed me to get to a place in my healing to start being open with love.
I am not going to say it is an easy journey but it is possible and I wanted to speak on some practices that have helped me.
Dating Is Hard, It Is Okay If You’re Not There Yet:
Dating is hard! If you are still healing from sexual assault or domestic violence it is okay to not be ready. You are allowed to take a break from dating and rediscover who you are after this event. Experiencing that inner journey, can really assist in your future relationships.
Look For Resources:
Healing is not linear therefore everyone's process may need different resources and even a combination of those resources. Organizations such as RAINN and NDVH are free chat resources and I personally found my therapist on Therapy for Black Girls.
Disclose at Your Own Pace:
You may feel moments of anxiety or uncertainty that may manifest in your time dating. Your story is just that's yours and you do not have to speed up telling someone if you are not comfortable. Even if you tell someone part of your story they are not entitled to the full story.
Make Boundaries Clear:
If you are like me then navigating dating or the beginning of a relationship can be hard. But having clear boundaries to ensure your emotional, mental, and physical safety can be of great assistance. This could look like not getting picked up from your house automatically. If you can be sure to note any red flags early on, that way you can make the best decision for you.
Sex Is a Journey :
Body-Mind detach is something that I have learned might come with traumatic events such as sexual or domestic violence. So at first sex might not only seem undesirable but you may struggle to be emotionally and mentally present. There is no one way to manage this and in fact it can even be a combination of therapy, meditation, self-exploration, and open dialogue with a partner.
You are Love:
I know nothing can erase what happened to you but from one survivor to another you are loved. You are needed in this world and you are important and despite what has happened intimate/partner love is possible. You deserve love that does not hurt you first, during, or after and my hope is that you will always remember that.
In closing I would like to leave you with a poem from my poetry collection The Tragic Type of Beautiful. Remember your story is just that yours and never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Written By: Cheyenne Tyler Jacobs
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