When most people think about loss, they think of tangible things- losing keys, the remote, a cell phone. When I think of loss, I think about sexual assault- losing friends, losing family, lost time at work, lost experiences, lost nights of sleep, and so much more. For me, one of my most significant losses was my voice. Some might argue that it was stolen, and I won’t disagree with them. But it is a loss either way.
I used to be very outgoing, outspoken, vibrant, and opinionated. After my assault, I wasn’t that person anymore, nor did I want to be for fear of drawing attention to myself. I could no longer stand up for myself, and I became so stuck in my own head that talking to anyone about anything became painful.
This year though, I began to find my voice, to find my way out and back to myself. In August of this year, I attended a retreat in San Diego, CA, for sexual assault survivors hosted by Sunlight Retreats. There I realized just how silent I have been and how that was holding me back from healing. The women I met there were accepting, empowering, and were the first push I needed to get my voice back. I knew I couldn’t stay silent anymore. There are too many survivors and more joining us every day. The resources for us are limited, the funding is lacking, and the punishment for perpetrators horribly inadequate, when there’s punishment at all. But I realized that when survivors come together, there is a support that transcends money and red tape, and there is only healing and empowerment.
So after returning home from San Diego, I thought about how I could use my voice to help others who have been stuck like me. The retreat with Sunlight was life-changing, and after research, I discovered how few retreats there are for survivors. And so I started Resilient Voices. It’s the resilient voices of survivors coming together to support each other and heal. And because of the fantastic work that Sunlight Retreats does to help sexual assault survivors, I am excited for Resilient Voices to partner with them to host our first retreat together in September 2020 in Asheville, NC.
Being a survivor is lonely. Despite how many of us there are, our silence, shame, and fear keeps us hidden. It is my hope that through these retreats, others will be able to find that they’re not alone. That they actually have an entire tribe of survivors supporting them and cheering for them. That no matter your story, we understand, we believe you, and we can’t wait to hear your voice.