It’s OK If You Don’t Speak Out

It’s OK If You Don’t Speak Out

I’ve been open with my story online for about a year now. However, I have just recently begun speaking in public, where “real life” people could see and recognize me. This has garnered many, many comments about my bravery. I appreciate the comments and feel flattered, but I need to address something here.

I had the perfect storm of circumstances contributing to my ability & decision to speak out:

  1. Supportive friends & family
  2. No ties or connections to my attacker
  3. A workplace where I’m not in the public eye
  4. I am not shy or afraid of attention
  5. My PTSD is under control. I’ve had tons of therapy to get me to a place where I don’t crumble under pressure; and I have access to ongoing therapy should I need it
  6. Other sexual assault cases in the media have opened the conversation and made it easier for me to jump in

Everyone has a different set of circumstances and no two cases are the same. Different people manage their situations in different ways.

THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO BE A SURVIVOR.
IT IS ENOUGH JUST TO SURVIVE.

Many survivors have told me that they could never do what I’m doing and it makes them feel ashamed, like a failure, or think that I’m braver than them. Ladies! We are carrying around so much shame that is not ours to carry. We don’t need to add any more. (I say ladies because they have all been female)

It may be downright dangerous for some survivors to speak out – if they know their attackers or are involved in a court case. Others HATE being the centre of attention (I have friends who are dreading their own weddings because of this!). Some people have jobs where they are in the public eye and need to keep a “clean” public image. Some survivors have experienced so much victim blaming and had their experience invalidated/brushed off so much that they feel like no one would believe them if they said anything. Some experiences are still too traumatic to talk about.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I wanted to illustrate that there are a multitude of reasons why survivors don’t/won’t/can’t speak out and that does not make them any less brave.

My stars aligned so to speak, to create a space where I could go public with my story. I realize that I am in a unique position here and I want to use my voice to stand up with and for other brave survivors whose circumstances don’t allow them to speak publicly. I also want to use this situation I have found myself in to raise awareness for the issue. For whatever reason people are starting to listen so I’m just going to keep on talking until I can’t anymore.

That’s why we are called “When You’re Ready” – because there is not timeline on healing, and no best way to do it. Please don’t pressure yourself. When You’re Ready, we’ll be here. And if you’re never ready, that’s OK too.

Author

Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Hi! I'm Elizabeth, a blogger on When You're Ready.org I spent 2 years struggling with PTSD and panic attacks following a violent attack. I want to use my experience and my voice to raise support for others. I desperately want to make the world a safer place for girls and women, especially my two little sisters. Keep talking, Keep sharing. When You're Ready, I'll be here.

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