In the months after being sexually assaulted by a close friend, I craved one thing. I craved being able to talk to someone who actually knew what I was going through. To hear from a fellow survivor that I would make it through those first dark months. To know there would be light. Hope. That I could return to who I used to be.
I never found what I craved. I was so fortunate to have the support of my family and a great therapist, but it wasn't the same. There is nothing equivalent to hearing from another survivor: "I've been there", "You will make it through this", "I believe you", "It gets better", "I know how you feel."
Really, it's all about not feeling alone. I was alone in my suffering, but I don't want others to be.
Last month, I created The Survivor Truth Project. The project takes place online, where survivors from around the world can submit a simple truth about life as a survivor of sexual assault.
The directions to submit a #SurvivorTruth are simple and open-ended:
Survivor Truth is a project to show that survivors of sexual assault are not alone. Created by a rape survivor, Anna Nettie Hanson, this ongoing project is meant to educate and inspire. It’s time to tell the truth about what it’s like to live as a survivor. It’s time that survivors stop feeling so alone.
Share a brief statement of truth about being a survivor. It can apply to your own experiences, or to survivors as a whole. Submit as many as you wish!
No triggering language, please.
By submitting, you agree to have your statement anonymously posted online.
Survivors are not alone.
We are not alone.
I was immediately amazed by the "truths" pouring into my inbox, all beautiful and powerful in their own ways. I found myself so comforted reading these statements, realizing that after four years as a survivor, I finally felt less alone. Readers feel the same way. I have been flooded with messages about how the project has helped others feel less afraid, creating an online community of survivors sharing and supporting one another.
The act of submitting a Survivor Truth is cathartic. The survivor types an honest statement. He or she clicks "submit," and then it is released into the universe. Forever anonymous, the Survivor Truth is a catalyst for survivors to reflect on their identities as survivors.
I hope we can learn from the success of this project and create more opportunities for survivors to connect. The internet brings endless possibilities for anonymous, controlled interactions between survivors. I don't want anyone to yearn for the comforting understanding of another survivor as I did. We must help one another, and in the same way, we help ourselves.
Visit The Survivor Truth Project: girlwhofoughtback.tumblr.com
Submit a Survivor Truth: girlwhofoughtback.tumblr.com/submit