Pain is Pain: Why Each Sexual Assault Counts
I wasn't raped. I believed that he was trying to rape me, I was molested by him... but, I wasn't raped. Because of that, my sexual assault wasn't a big deal to some people. In fact, some people didn't consider what happened to me to be a sexual assault.
A lot of people said, "Thank God it wasn't worst!" I agreed with them, because it could have been worst. I think it's important to always look for a silver lining, because the simply act of looking can give people hope. However, we can get so focused on the silver lining that we diminish our own experiences.
My mother has a saying that she inherited from my great-grandmother: "Pain is pain." Everyone goes through different experiences, and something that is severely painful to one person could be mildly painful to another. There are people who try to one-up other people's pain by saying, "If you think that was bad, wait until you hear what happened to me!" They think the pain of someone who went through less than what they went through isn't as valuable as theirs.
What they don't realize, though, is that someone always has it worse. If there is a title of Most Afflicted Person, a new person holds that title from moment to moment. People can use facts to compare events, ranking them from "least" horrible to "most" horrible. However, those events remain horrible, the horror of the "least" horrible event could be more painful than you could imagine, and no event's pain is more valuable than another's.
Would you tell a cancer survivor that they are not a cancer survivor because they did not go through as much as another cancer survivor did? There are different stages of cancer like there are different forms of sexual assault. There are cancer survivors who are blessed to have their cancer removed before it spreads throughout their bodies, like there are sexual assault survivors who are blessed to not develop PTSD, depression, or other health problems. There are cancer survivors who's bodies redevelop cancer later in life, like there are sexual assault survivors who are repeatedly sexually assaulted.
Every survivor's story is different, but that doesn't change any survivor's status as a survivor.
If you experienced sexual contact or behavior of any kind, without your clear, informed, and positively-given "yes" to do so, you are a sexual assault survivor. No matter how much worse it could've been, your sexual assault counts and whatever pain you experienced from it matters as much as every other survivor's.
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