Sexual trauma was not a reality that I was prepared to deal with, and the painful impacts of those events left me in a furry of pain, however, in the midst of my anguish I turned to poetry as a cathartic art form to release my emotions.
The Reality of Sexual Trauma
Sexual trauma did not receive an invitation to present itself in my life, it was an unexpected visitor, who arrived at my home and then brought anger, denial, sadness and pain along with them. As all of these unwanted emotions came into my space, I felt as if I was trapped at the world’s most terrible dinner party. Filled with confusion, raging emotions, and a loss of my sense of worth, the experience left behind a lingering aftertaste, to remind me constantly of how awful it was.
The Power of Poetry
With time, through short form poetry and drawings, I began to release my pain slowly, which allowed me to grasp onto a little bit of peace within my stark labels of being both a ‘victim’ and a ‘survivor’. I endlessly wrote about all of the confusing thoughts I couldn’t sort out in my mind, like how love and intimacy had taken on new roles in my life, which now felt distant to me. Everything relating to sexual trauma was overwhelming and because of it I felt completely lost in myself. Yet, the act of writing poetry allowed me to collect everything I felt in a very tangible way. By reading through my sporadic thoughts of emotional outbursts I was able to make some sense of why I was feeling these things in relation to my trauma.
Healing, Self Love & Acceptance
This reasoning behind my pain was only the beginning of a long journey to healing, self love, and acceptance. Becoming myself again took a combination of art and forcing myself to confront exactly how I felt. Yet, the most difficult part of the entire process of healing was releasing my pain and loving myself regardless of my difficult experiences.
The labels of ‘victim’ and ‘survivor’ that now defined who I was, made me believe that I shouldn’t have happiness and peace because of my tainted world view. I had to realize that I did not deserve the trauma that was inflicted on me. My situation was not a consequence of my actions, and I did not need to be burdened with the guilt of wondering if I should have done something differently. Regardless of what happened, I needed to find healing through self love and accepting myself.
Following the aftermath of my sexual trauma, there are still parts of myself that are different from the person that I used to be, yet I have embraced those new sides because through my experience I have learned self love and become resilient. Those past parts of me, most likely will never recover, but that is not necessarily a bad thing because I am at peace with the person that I have become. However, I have days when I feel triggered by a situation, often when I am attempting to have a healthy intimate relationship. My mind and body often want and need different things and I become frustrated by both my physical and mental barriers. But even though I am changed, more reserved, slight jaded, and less carefree, I have transformed into an out spoken, strong, and power voice that works closely with women to discover healing and peace.
In my aftermath of being raped, I made an active decision to seek help when I was broken and create something constructive, transparent, and beautiful through my pain. Within my poetry book ‘These (Transitional) Words', my story is a candid experience of what I went through, yet through my writing I have no interest in making the story I tell to be about myself. Instead, the purpose of my work is to encourage others to seek healing and overcome the terrible and unfair things that have been inflicted on them.
For anyone who resonates with my experiences, the most important things for you to realize is that there is always hope, you are not alone in how you feel, and you are deserving of love. Your label of ‘survivor’ or ‘victim’ does not define who you are because you are so much more than that. Find healing through healthy cathartic releases like art, sports, nature, even cooking and be patient with yourself. Just remember that you are a mosaic of beauty, intricate, resilient, and stronger than you believe that you are.
Text by Jennifer Drews
Check out her poetry book "These (Transitional) Words"
Preview Image by Jess Kalman