There’s an old saying, “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I don’t believe that. I think the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the good things; your family, your friends, the satisfaction of hard work. Those are the things that will keep you whole. Those are the things to hold on to when you’re broken.
The fact is, many abuse victims don’t realize they’re being abused. They undergo trauma and just don’t understand why it hurts. I was never taught about enthusiastic consent. The phrase entered my vocabulary only a couple of years ago. It pains me to think of how different my life would have been if someone had taught me that I was supposed to want sexual contact and say so; otherwise, it was wrong. I truly thought that fearfully giving up after saying no twenty times counted as consent. If taught differently, I don’t know that I would have avoided the initial assaults, but I do believe with all my heart that I would have gotten myself out of that situation sooner. At the time, I knew that rape and physical assault were inexcusable acts of violence generally committed against women. I just didn’t realize that what was being done to me was rape. For that reason, it took me years to realize why I felt so traumatized.