STOP Assuming Sexual Assault Survivor’s Lives Are Ruined

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Again and again and again, I’m seeing the comment “her life is ruined.”

Yes.

And no.

Her life is different, certainly.

But ruined? Not necessarily.

Let’s be careful with our words, please. Because when you say her life is ruined because of her rape, it sounds like you’re saying my life was ruined by each of mine. But this?

The author and her husband, laughing, waiting to board a plane.
photo credit: The Archibald Project
This.
The author, speaking on a panel.
photo credit: Chad Bartlett, ERLC

Is.

The author, her husband and her family posing outside, sitting in fall leaves.

Not.

headshot of the author

A.

The author and her family at church.

Ruined.

The author, her husband and her children dressed up for Easter.

Life.

The author and her husband holding hands, walking down the street.
photo credit: The Archibald Project

She knows, I know, one in six women, one in 33 men know a darkness that can threaten at any moment. For her, it might be a glimpse of a dumpster, an ordinary scrape on her arm that’s too much like the ones she woke up with, an article about a swimming prodigy. For me, it can be an unanticipated touch, a certain kind of bush that was nearby then, any moment when I have trouble catching my breath because I couldn’t breathe then. For you, if you’ve survived the darkness too, you have your own list of triggers that can put you back in that moment.

One ugly chapter — maybe you could even call it a ruined chapter — doesn’t define our stories, though. Rape doesn’t get that power. Darkness doesn’t get the last say.

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