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What to expect when you share

Sharing your story takes courage, but know that you are doing something amazing. You’re making it safe for others to come forward and bringing the problem of sexual violence to light by keeping this very important conversation going.

I cannot offer you professional advice on how to handle the very big step you’re about to take (or just took). But I want to share with you, based on my own experiences, some tips for what to expect after you share your story:

  • Support, lots of love and support. People will reach out and commend you for your courage, and thank you for what you’re doing. For the first few days I could hardly keep up with emails.
  • Other survivors will share their stories with you. In my case, It was a huge number. It was a lot to handle and I found it helpful to discus it with a therapist. It warmed my heart to know I was reaching people, but I was sad for them and getting a flood of responses within days was a lot for me to deal with personally. I suggest setting aside some time to process.
  • People close to you may recognize details of the story and piece it together. The WYR Project will never post identifiable information about anyone other than the person submitting the story (i.e. no ‘naming names’). Even without details, however, some people will know. Here are some things I and others who have shared their stories have experienced that you should prepare for:
    • Your rapist might recognize himself in the story and reach out to you. It’s best to think about that possibility and prepare yourself. None of my rapists have reached out (yet) but someone close to one of them did. I wasn’t prepared for that and it caused a great deal of anxiety.
    • If there were other people involved (e.g. friends who were there when it happened) they might apologize or feel guilty. I felt bad that they felt bad. My advice to you is to try not to take it on yourself – let them know that you don’t blame them. There is nothing they could have done, it’s the rapist’s fault and no one else’s.
    • Writing it down, reading it online, and talking about your experience with sexual violence might stir up emotions you have buried so deeply you don’t even realize are there. In my case, my first rape was almost 15 years ago and I thought I had moved on completely. Again – seeing a therapist is helpful.
  • People might ask you questions like “why didn’t you report it?” or “who was it?” Just be ready, and think in advance about what you’re comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to decline to answer.
  • People might have negative or critical reactions. This has not been the case for me, but unfortunately we live in a world where that’s not uncommon. It’s my vision that we can change that, and I hope with all my heart that this doesn’t happen to you.
  • You may change your mind. If that happens, please email me right away and I’ll take your story down – no questions asked. Know that I can only control this site. If it was picked up by a third party there’s nothing I can do.

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) has a number of resources to help you help as you take this next step in your healing journey.

Please remember, you’re not alone. We’re all here for you, we believe you and we stand beside you all the way.

Permanent link to this article: http://whenyoureready.org/share/what-to-expect-when-you-share/