"Coming Out".....As A Sexual Assault Survivor

By: Claire Biggs, Regular Contributor

 

It’s been a pretty big week for me.

I got into a (relatively minor) car accident on the way to pick up donuts on Saturday morning. My interview with Mariska Hargitay went live on MTV Act on Friday. Earlier in the week, I came out on Facebook.

No, I didn’t come out as gay. Or bi-sexual. Or anything else, for that matter.

A few days ago I “came out” as a sexual assault survivor.

Facebook, as most of us know all too well, is pretty much designed to be a highlight reel: featuring the best moments of people’s lives. When you log in, you’re bombarded with pictures of ultrasounds and newborns, engagement rings and romantic dates, and so on. There’s seemingly no place for your status, picture, or update if it’s not carefully calculated to show you having the best day ever…every single day.

Just over five years ago, I had a really bad day. Fast forward to this week and a group of friends and I were finally ready to let our Facebook friends know about our status as women who had personal experiences with sexual assault and domestic violence.

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Image from checkoutmyink.com

Although the four of us had much in common, our stories were different. We posted statuses we had painstakingly crafted, included links to resources, and encouraged other survivors, if they were ready, to join us in shedding the anonymity. We made a public promise that the people who commit these acts of violence wouldn’t be able to count on our silence anymore.

Once we posted the status updates, we waited anxiously. One girl was on a plane, another was at work, a third was on her way to get a workout in, and I was driving across town to a meeting. Soon the likes, private messages, comments, and, later, text messages started hitting our phones.  Other survivors came out on our statuses. We received messages of support from people we hadn’t spoken to in years. Friends shared the resources in hope other survivors would seek help.

This, as you can imagine, wasn’t an easy decision to make. Most of us were already out to our family members and close friends, but this was something entirely different. We had talked over this decision for the better part of nine months, however, so we had had ample time to back out. Although we never set a date, in fact, we only decided days before that we would “come out” this week, we had all considered the potential ramifications of posting something like that for our worlds to see.

In the end, the benefit of potentially helping one person who was suffering in silence outweighed any possible risks.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault or domestic violence and needs help, please know you are not alone, this is not your fault, and there is help. You can find information at RAINN or at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

About Claire: Claire Biggs landed what she thinks is one of the best jobs in the world writing for MTV’s pro-social blog, MTV Act. She’s a writer who watches too much TV and reads even more books. She’s probably on Twitter (@ClaireMBiggs) right now.

 

 

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