Through the Eyes of a Survivor Named Kendra

Many survivors find it extremely hard to open up about their own rape or sexual assault personal experience and the way that they decide to deal with the situation is different for each person. However, after talking to an amazing sexual assault survivor named Kendra Ely, you (as a reader) can get an exclusive insight to how she felt when she first came forward after approaching RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network) for advice and how they helped her through the healing process. Kendra openly shared about how she felt when she first came forward.

“I was always scared and had lost my sense of security when I first came forward. It was hard for me to do it but RAINN really helped me feel comfortable about doing it and were very supportive to me at the time.” – Kendra

What Kendra was feeling at the time, is a normal part of the healing process for any survivor to go through when coming forward. The possible reason for this; is that sometimes it feels easier for a survivor to stay quiet because it is less painful and a way for them to try and forget it ever happened to them.

“To live as a sexual assault survivor I feel so ashamed. I feel people can see right through me. I feel so dirty.” – Kendra

This is a common type of coping mechanism that many survivors do to protect themselves from not only pain (both emotionally and physically) but an even bigger factor, is also because they are scared. Reasons for being scared are different for each individual survivors but for Kendra, she expressed that when she came forward, she was scared about what it will do to her as a person, how it will affect her life with future intimate relationships, how people will interact with her after finding out, and whether she can trust people especially men at all.

“After a traumatic event, it is typical to have feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, making it difficult to adjust or cope for some time afterwards. In particular, survivors of sexual violence may experience severe feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” – RAINN

No matter how badly beaten or barely showing any physical damage that is seen after surviving a rape or/and sexual assault encounter, the person attacked is always going to be scared and fearful. As soon as someone has been attacked, they instantly lose their power of control because the predator has automatically taken the control off them. Because of this, some survivors like Kendra start to feel insecure with themselves as a person and constantly put them-selves down in a negative way.

“Because your personal boundaries were invaded when you were young by someone you trusted and depended on, you may have trouble understanding that you have the right to control what happens to you.” – RAINN

By having a great organization like RAINN there for assistance as a helpful support system for survivors like Kendra, they can help get survivors past this negative way of thinking. It is the support that RAINN provides, the encouragement they share, and the hope they give to survivors, that give people like Kendra the hope and strength to overcome negative thoughts and start to move forward to thinking in a positive way.

“In most instances, the survivor never discussed the abuse with others while it was occurring. In fact, many survivors do not remember the abuse until years after it has occurred, and may never be able to clearly recall it. Usually, after being triggered by a memory, this individual learns how, as an adult, to deal with the effects of the abuse. It is important to speak with someone, whether it is a friend or counsellor, about the abuse and past and current feelings.” – RAINN

Once a survivor has their mind set on speaking in a negative way about themselves after being victimized, it is hard to go back to how they were without any help. Unfortunately this happens a lot because it is used as a defence mechanism as a way to prevent themselves (as a survivor) from getting hurt again. To a survivor like Kendra, it seems like the easiest answer and most logical choice because how they feel on the inside is generally what they are showing (physically) on the outside too. Survivors like Kendra do this because they do not feel beautiful but dirty instead as Kendra explained earlier. Just like many other survivors, they try to look less attractive in public to avoid sending out extra physical attention because it is a way of protecting themselves from being violated again. However with the help from an inspirational organization like RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network) they can help teach survivors like Kendra learn how to regain back control of their life and start to feel worthy as a person they truly are.

“It feels like I go through phases. Some days I feel like it’s all I think about and other days I doubt whether or not it even happened. I don’t feel great on the inside most of the time, especially when all I can think about is what happened to me. – Kendra

Whether it has been twenty years or a few days after being victimized, every survivor copes with it in a different way but no matter what way, the one thing that is for certain is that no survivor is at fault for what happened to them and that they are worthy. It is perfectly normal to be scared after being raped or sexually assaulted and whether you come forward straight away or twenty years later, it is never too late to get help. Organizations like RAINN are always going to be there to help and support those survivors who need it so for any reader who needs someone to talk to, please know that you can go to RAINNs online hotline at any time.

Just know: You are never alone, and it is never too late to get the help you need and deserve!

To contact RAINN:

Phone: 1 800 656 HOPE
Hotline: RAINN’s 24 Hour Hotline

PAVE My Stories: Military Male Survivor Speaks Out – Part One

Coming forward about rape or sexual assault is never easy for a survivor to do after it has happened to them, and in most cases that do or we hear of, are generally females. It is not just because males are less likely to be attacked, but for a male survivor to come forward it seems to be proven more difficult. However, thanks to James Landrith who was an active Military duty U.S Marine, he uses his voice to encourage other male survivors to come forward to come forward a give hope to others. James openly expresses how the  organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse. Incest, National Network) helped his journey to healing and how even being a survivor from a few years, can still bring up bad memories. However, by using techniques he has learned through professional advice, he knows how to overcome those feelings.

“I was drugged and raped by a woman who bought me a few drinks. She used blackmail and coercion to ensure my compliance once the effects of the drugged drinks wore off. I was an active duty U.S. Marine and she was a local civilian. Dealing with the aftermath of sexual violence takes on a different form daily. I never know when or if I will be triggered or by what.” – James Landrith

Unfortunately after being sexually victimized like James has been, survivors struggle to live each day without feeling the urge of suppressed feelings and thoughts about what happened to them. To many survivors just like James, this can cause an unexpected panic and stress attack that alarms/triggers the survivor to the feeling of being unsafe.

“I never know when or if I will be triggered or by what. As I type this now, I have been fighting a week long panic attack and I am unsure of its source. Some days, I don’t even think about it and go on about my business unhindered. However, on other days, it is at the front of my mind and I find myself checking for exits in any room I enter or elevator I ride.” – James Landrith

These feelings can raise so much stress on their body both physically and mentally because their mind goes back to when their encounter was/took place and struggle to come back to reality. However, with an organization as helpful as RAINN is to survivors, they are there to teach and provide information on how to prevent and decrease these types of symptoms as they arise.

“Re-Experiencing: This is a repeated reliving of the event, and interferes with daily activity. This category includes flashbacks, frightening thoughts, recurrent memories or dreams, and physical reactions to situations that remind you of the event.” – RAINN

Many people when they are in a public atmosphere or are surrounded by a crowd of people can suffer from both anxiety or panic attacks but to those who have been sexually assaulted or have been raped, the chances are significantly higher. It is sometimes hard to see straight away when you suffer with these (PTSD symptoms) as a survivor but to properly heal and gain back control of your life the support from others is essential. Having support from an organization like RAINN and other survivors like James, can not only help with the healing process but they can also help provide an understanding on what you (as a survivor) are going through and that all the horrible feelings you may be feeling are normal but as times goes by it will get better.

“There are many programs and organizations available to assist survivors. You can find local centers in your phonebook, or go online to RAINN.org and filter down to a local center. Also, many local governments offer crisis services. When a survivor decides to come forward, even if it is DECADES after the abuse, they may be in crisis mode. When I first decided to confront my own experiences, it felt like it had just happened and I was extremely raw. It might as well have just happened. I was clearly in crisis mode and found some via the local county mental health services.” – James Landrith

When you are at the stage of talking to a professional therapist about your sexual assault or rape, you may feel overwhelmed as that is a normal feeling to have, but if you do not feel comfortable with the person you are talking with then find someone you do feel comfortable talk with. It is essential to always feel safe and comfortable when talking to a professional so it is okay to keep looking for the right person but whatever you do, do not give up on yourself because like what James and other survivors discovered, healing is an individual process and everyone heals in different ways with different people, on their own journey.

“One thing to remember is that a survivor owns their healing and they have the right to turn change therapists or counsellors if they do not feel comfortable or validated. Not every survivor/counsellor pairing is going to be successful. This does not make you a failure at healing; it just means you haven’t found the right partner. Keep trying!” – James Landrith

Please Note:  ”The Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline is a groundbreaking crisis support service for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault. Safe Helpline provides live, one-on-one advice, support, and information to the worldwide DoD community. The service is anonymous, secure, and available 24/7 — providing victims with the help they need, anytime, anywhere.” – RAINN

Coming Up Next: Part Two of this article will be based on “Private Practice” the February 2, 2012 Storyline in relation to James Landrith’s interview we did with him on his own personal survivor story.

RAINN Gives Hope to a Survivor Named Alyssa Marie

Waking up every morning may seem like something automatic to do and possibly something that can even be taken for granted, but to the innocent people who have been sexually assaulted or/and raped, this can be very challenging and an on-going battle. Whether survivors have come forward or are still in silence, the feeling of being alone and helpless is constantly being reminded to them as their fears keep re-surfacing from deep within flashbacks and memories of their attack. However, by having an inspirational organization like RAINN ( Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network) who specialize in encouraging survivors to get the right help from professionals, survivors can move forward and start to have hope in their lives.

“It is vital you get yourself help if you are in an unsafe situation. I cannot stress strongly enough to get support after you come forward as a process so gruelling, cannot be done alone. Dealing with triggers such as songs, smells etc can cause flashbacks, which is hard to cope with sometimes but then I have the support of my friends and other survivors who help me through it.” – Alyssa Marie

No matter how young or old anyone is, sexual assault and rape is wrong and it is never the survivors fault. As a survivor, they tend to feel guilty, shameful, and feel like they are to blame for putting themselves into these dangerous situations, but the only one at fault for being raped and/or sexually assaulted is the one who does it. Although this is something that a survivor is constantly always feeling and can be hard to fully understand and accept, with great help-lines and organizations like RAINN, they can help them to understand that these are normal feelings to have after a traumatic incident. With the help from RAINN, survivors are not only taking the first step, but a first positive step forward onto their journey of recovery, healing, and hope.

“After a traumatic event, it is also typical to have feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, making it difficult to adjust or cope for some time afterwards. Victims also might avoid places, events, or objects that remind them of the experience. Emotions related to avoidance are numbness, guilt, and depression. Some have a decreased ability to feel certain emotions, like happiness. However, Understanding what you’re going through is the first step to recovery.” – RAINN

In the moment of the attack, the survivor’s power is taken off them and is transferred to their attacker because the feeling of watching some vulnerable gives them (the attacker) a sense of power. Unfortunately for sexual assault survivor Alyssa Marie, she was unable to defend herself to her attacker because she was too young and the vulnerably was sadly unavoidable. Alyssa’s loss of security was taken away from her at a very young age because of these traumatic episodes that surfaced throughout her childhood years (until he was reported a few years later), but sadly he was never convicted due to lack of evidence.

“It started when I was 3 and it didn’t stop until I was 5 or 6. It was my dad and he was never convicted because I was too young to testify and when I was old enough it wouldn’t hold up in court so he is still in NZ however I am safe and I have a protection/restraining order against him.” – Alyssa Marie

For survivors who have been through what Alyssa has, (especially when their attacker is out in the community unpunished for their crime) their instant reaction is to keep quiet because they fear that if they speak up, no one will believe them. Many survivors who have been assaulted in their childhood or adult life generally do not share or report their attack straight away (if at all) because of this and therefore stay silent. With supportive organizations like RAINN, they are always making it aware that as a survivor, there is constant share of love to help them report, reach out, and guide themselves to the right kind of help that will benefit the recovery process. RAINN however, do not force survivors to report their attacker (although it is strongly encouraged) but are there to 100% support the survivor and make sure that they feel safe and have a place to go to if not.

“RAINN is helpful because they offer hotlines and services that are available. In my opinion you definitely need to seek professional help and also definitely do things that make you happy or do things to take your mind off it.” – Alyssa Marie

To a survivor, having hope is hard to contain because when you lose all sense of security nothing positive, seems possible and you feel like you should always expect the worst to happen. But thanks to Gorjana and Hollywood Actress/RAINN advocate KaDee Strickland they have made this possible for survivors to have hope because their collaborated RAINN Hope Necklace certainly brings light out of something so horrific.

“The RAINN Hope Necklace is a meaningful symbol and reminds me of what it means to be a survivor and it’s a constant reminder of how far each individual survivor has come.” – Alyssa Marie

The RAINN Hope necklace not only reminds survivors that they all survived, but also that they can get through anything and they never have to be alone because it is never too late to get help. To everyone who is not a survivor, it is also another way for anyone to show their support and help encourage survivors to reach out and gain back their control.

“I am not a survivor by I bought a hope necklace as my way of showing support to survivors who have one through the worst of things and need help to get their voice back.” – Lacey Ives

No matter if you were sexual assaulted or raped that happened 20 years ago or last week, there is always hope for you and it is never too late to get help. Please contact RAINN by calling 1 800 656 HOPE or on their 24hr hotline at www.rainn.org because once you have taken that first step, you will be able to start to heal properly.

To buy a RAINN Hope Necklace, please go to Gorjana’s website direct link: www.gorjana.com/products/RAINN-Hope-Necklace.html and for every necklace you buy, 80% of all the proceedings go directly to RAINN.