Oh there are times when you know you just have to write. Today is one of those days.
My boyfriend took this photo on one of our many weekend adventures. He and I had gone to a nude beach to enjoy a little sunshine and a little salt. It was his first time and it was my hundredth time or so and it was an experience that I wanted to share with him. I hadn’t been back to the nude beach since my sexual assault in September of 2017 because I was fearful. I was afraid what it would mean to be at a beach alone naked. I was afraid of would it would mean for me to be out in public naked, I was afraid that in some way someone would misconstrue my #love for my #body and my love for #nature and turn it into something sexual and then I realized that I had become fearful of my own #sexuality…
Prior to my #rape, my sexuality and the fact that I was a sexual being empowered by embracing my #womanhood was something that I reveled in… after my rape I shut down from the world and I stopped thinking of myself as a sexual person. I gained a lot of #weight… 40 pounds to be exact and I’m still struggling to take those extra pounds off, all the while embracing the body and I currently occupy…
I’ve learned to find love for myself through my scars through, my weight fluctuations, my turmoil and even my rape and I am healing one day at a time.
When I saw this image on my boyfriend’s phone I felt #beautiful. I felt #strong.
It’s really hard to do a #headstand in the sand!
I immediately wanted to share this image, but I’ve been sitting on it for a little over 2 weeks now because I worried what it would mean for the #survivor of a sexual assault to post a photo of herself semi naked on a beach and then it occurred to me today that I would have posted this photo before my sexual assault on September 16th of 2017, because I was #fearless then and I embraced everything about myself including my strong yet rounded body.
Today I’m reclaiming a little bit of myself and although I realize there will be some negative pushback from me posting this photo I still feel strong. I still feel beautiful and I am still a sexual being.
It is profound to realize just how many ways shame plays a role in your life after a sexual assault. Things you never even questioned suddenly become obstacles to overcome. I was using the hashtag #shameless without realizing how much shame I was actually carrying until that photo. I am NOT ashamed of what someone else chose to do to me. I am NOT going to carry the shame of sexual assault and rape. It isn’t my shame to carry. It is NO survivor’s shame to carry. The culture needs to change. The culture needs to change to reflect the responsibility that the perpetrators of these crimes carry.
We don’t ask victims of drunk drivers what they were doing out on the road at two am. We don’t question the victims of burglary and ask them why they purchased something that would be stolen in the first place. We don’t ask victims of murder what they did to deserve to die, so why do we tear apart victims of rape and not hold the light of accountability and judgement up to the horrible people who commit these crimes?
I am not going to live in fear. I am not going to stop doing the things that I love or cease to be the person that I am. I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. I loved my rapist. I loved him so much that it hurt. I loved him despite every single thing he ever did to me up until the moment he raped me. I can’t unlove or unlive the path I took. The shame does not lie in me but in a man who would so heartlessly and shamelessly violate me.
His crime does not define me. He does not define me.
I define myself.
I’m not hiding who I am because he tried to take that away from me. This is me… surviving.