Tonight's post is not my usual post. It is a bit more intimate and, frankly, uncomfortable than others I've published before. That being said my intent for posting is not for personal sympathy but for awareness at how commonly this happens and you never know who might be dealing with this.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), not that we should need a month to be aware of this topic as it should be common sense that "No means No!" Sadly, it is an active and vicious abuse world wide. This is a human to human issue, that puts all gender identities aside and attacks a person at their most precious and vulnerable core. The scars left behind are brutal, noticeable and life altering.
Labor Day Weekend 2010 I was attacked and assaulted by 3 strangers on the street on my way home from the gym. Broken bones, scrapes and bruises were the least of the casualties. For an instant I thought about hiding it from everyone. I lived in a different city from my parents, my then-boyfriend/now-husband and I were on a break, and I figured I could live it out in my tiny apartment and no one would notice. I was embarrassed, ashamed, hurting, so-deeply-beyond-sad, angry and so, so confused all at the same time. I remember I couldn't get comfortable hugging my pillow because my face and ribs hurt so badly.
Thankfully, my mother is a deeply in tune person. She knew something was up because she couldn't sleep the night before and called me first thing in the morning. She refused to let me try this ordeal on my own and loved me fiercely. I spent a month at home surrounded by support, daily/hourly hugs and they got me to the point where I could stand on my own two feet again - enough that I could return to my life in Boston.
There is no one right way to recover - every single person has different needs in their individual circumstances. Counseling didn't work for me. Having to talk about the events out loud somehow made it too real and I couldn't handle that. I admit that I battled (and to a certain extent now still do...) denial. And the even bigger D - depression. My body was forever changed, my personality was forever changed - and all of it was done against my will. And how that ANGERED me!!
I by no means mean to give the impression that it was one month and then suddenly I was fine. Far, far from it. There are many other long, drawn out details that are mine. Five years later I can say that it is primarily behind me and does not have a massive influence on my day-to-day. But I struggle with it. I'm blessed with persons in my life who support me whole-heartedly as I do.
I know I have mentioned an "accident" or an "incident" in previous posts, where I used quilting as my therapy. This is that incident. While I was home, I spent a beautiful day with my Aunt in a quilt shop and going to a local quilt show. I remember the show was hosted in a church and was one of the most beautiful exhibits I've seen. So much peace through creativity, being surrounded by it... Wow!
In my mind that is the beginning of my true love affair with quilting! Even though I've been quilting and sewing since I was 6, I relate to this period as the beginning of my era.
Which is why this post is so special to me.
In honor of SAAM 2015 and inspired by the so many other powerful people who have experiences with this evil act, I have made this quilt:
|"Warrior Heart," April 2015, 35" by 45", applique with hand stitched details|
|Details of the heart|
I do not pretend to speak for anyone else or how they classify themselves. Victim, victor, casualty, survivor, warrior - it is entirely a personal experience and only you can say. This is me. This is my declaration to the world that I am not ashamed any longer of something so far out of my control happened to me. My (emotional) (psychological) scars still zing in sharp and unexpected ways. I think they always will. But I can hold my head high and say to those 3 cowards (still on the loose - and if you happen to be reading this, Shame on you!) "You Did Not Win!"
For anyone reading this that is hurt and needing help, please reach out! There are trained people ready and so willing to listen and help you! Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (https://www.rainn.org/) is a great place to start.
If you are looking for a cause to support, Red My Lips (http://redmylips.org/) is one that I subscribe to. And for them I will be wearing bright red lipstick for the month of April!
Love to you all; and thank you for reading this! Please spread the word - there might be that one person suffering all alone and we can make the difference!
Music: "Freedom" from the Django Unchained Soundtrack