May 5, 2015

How to Fight a Rapist

This week, I am happy to introduce you to Anna Nettie Hanson, an absolutely amazing young woman and survivor of rape. She will be sharing with us a bit of her story this week and how she has fought back and reclaimed her life.


Hi! I'm Anna Nettie Hanson, author of For Now: Words of the Girl Who Fought Back. I am a rape survivor and activist passionate about ending rape culture, victim blaming, and sexual violence.

I am a senior at DePaul University in Chicago, completing degrees in both Communication and Spanish. While I'm not working and studying, I spend my time fighting back. Want to join me?

When I was 18, I was violently raped in my sleep by a close friend. I fought back, pressed charges, he pleaded guilty and served his sentence. But this is a happy story, because so few rapists ever spend a day in jail.


After being raped, I didn't know how to heal. Like many survivors, I felt lost and broken. So, I began to write. I just wrote. The second my pen touched paper I knew that it was safe to say how I really felt. I encourage all survivors to try this: take out a single piece of paper and a pen, write for five minutes about anything, do not pause, then burn/tear up or throw away the paper. Do not read it. By not reading it, you are able to access your emotions without having to relive them. I developed this trick to avoid flashbacks. Give it a shot.

This saved me. Four months later, NEARI Press published my journal nationally with the goal of being able to help others understand the journey of healing from a survivor's perspective.

To the Survivor

Strange that someone can steal you
Steal you from you

Strange that someone can change you
Change you in front of you
Strange that someone can destroy you

Destroy you,
For now. 

~From "For Now: Words of the Girl Who Fought Back"

For now. That is my mantra. Healing is possible. Everyone heals from sexual assault and abuse differently, so it takes time to figure out what works best for you. When I can write out my thoughts or speak to a group about rape, I feel like I am doing something proactive towards my healing.

I have been a survivor for four years now. I graduate from college in 40 days and 14 hours (not that I'm counting!), and it is a monumental day for many reasons. There was a point where I didn't think I could make it to college. Where the rape almost defined me by holding me back from my dreams. I know that in 40 days when my name echoes over the crowd, I'll hear in it the pride of a graduate, but also a survivor. 

My tattoo, "survivor." Back of left shoulder.
One year anniversary of being raped.

Anna lives with a passionate goal to spread knowledge about the intensely far-reaching effects of sexual assault. She received Moving to End Sexual Assault’s annual “Brave, Bold, and Beautiful Survivor Award 2011” for her writing and advocacy. Soon after, was selected as Survivor of the Month by RAINN (Rape Abuse Incest National Network) and was then featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine. With an endorsement for her book from U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Anna is also involved in political action that supports survivors. She is passionate about working with survivors towards healing and confronting social barriers through her writing. She thrives to help others learn through her experience, and her powerful presentations enable this education. Anna Nettie Hanson is a senior at DePaul University in Chicago, completing Bachelor’s degrees in both Communication and Spanish, continuing on to complete a Master’s in Relational Communication.

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