Strong as Stone: “I am no longer a victim, but a survivor”

strongasstone Moving into her first apartment in Boston after graduating college, a young woman never expected that in October 2011, her whole world would be turned upside down by a man she never even met. As she napped peacefully on her couch one fall afternoon, an intruder broke into her apartment and sexually assaulted her. She never looked at people or the world the same since this day, but today she speaks out to WiLab and survivors everywhere to inspire them during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, #SAAM.

Interview with sexual assault survivor from Boston, MA:

After going through something like this, what would you tell other survivors?

It really does get better. Time does heal things. Even though it may not seem it, you can get your life back. Even if something terrible happened, don’t let it define you.

How has this changed your outlook on life?

It has changed in so many ways. I am more aware of my surroundings. I am more hesitant to trust people. I see the world I live in so differently now. It snapped me back to reality that something like this could happen to anyone.

What is the most difficult challenge you experienced going through this?

The toughest thing for me is sharing my story with people I am dating or meeting. I can be as comfortable as I can with everything, but seeing the reaction of other people when I tell them my story is difficult. I can see in their face that they do not know how to react or what to say. It is really awkward and I never want people to feel bad for me because I didn’t do anything wrong, it just happened. Being in a normal relationship is hard, because they never feel normal. They don’t know if they should touch or kiss me and if they are going to trigger something. People have even stopped talking to me after I told them my story. That is the most difficult thing.

After going through the criminal justice system, what advice would you give others who are hesitant to go through with it?

I would tell them that it is necessary to the healing process. After it is done, you can see yourself moving on. It is a very big piece of the healing. Court is hard, and people accuse you of things that you didn’t do, but it is necessary and I would encourage others to go through with it.

What are your future goals and missions to help other sexual assault survivors?

Definitely starting my own non-profit organization. I already have a name for it and it is in the beginning stages. It will be a non-profit to raise money for certain victims who need help and do not have the means to pay for certain things. When I went through this, I had a great support system and health insurance, but it was still really hard for me. It made me realize, that people need help financially for something that was not their fault. Our main events will be fashion shows to also allow survivors to build their confidence and see themselves in a positive light. Another goal of the non-profit, would attempt to get people talking about this issue. The only way to end sexual assault is to get people talking about it.

During Sexual Assault Awareness month, how do you think people can start creating change?

I think sexual assault should be an open discussion. It is a very heated topic, but people need to realize it can happen to anyone. If at least people start talking about it, then that is a start. People should also look up local campaigns and do their own research on it.

Strong As Stone, will be a non-profit organization that was created by this survivor. It is in the early stages, but has plans to develop into something great. Look out for more updates and events related to Strong As Stone. In the meantime, continue to talk about sexual assault and ways you can help friends or peers who may have experienced it. Read more about her experience here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CHRISTINE BERARDINO

I’m an advocate in law enforcement and am passionate about women’s rights advocacy. I received my Bachelor of Arts from the University of New Hampshire in 2011, with a dual major of Psychology and Justice Studies.

Boston, MA | Twitter

Read more about and from Christine: Christine’s WiLab Profile