Everyone, male and female, has issues with body image. But for us, for the survivors of sexual traumas, body image is deeply rooted. Here I am going to talk about body image in relation to sexual assault. Take care of yourself while reading and if at anytime you feel triggered, please take the time to focus on yourself and gather your thoughts.
So, body image, as we all know, seems to be an epidemic in today’s society. It is something that even people who have not experienced sexual traumas have trouble with. I’m not going to blame society (not entirely anyway) for all of this, even though society is at partial fault. So, before you turn away from this page completely and ride it off as a bunch of feminist crap, keep reading, OK?
Remember me saying that body image isn’t only societies fault? Well, the other half of that blame goes to the perpetrator or the one who committed the crime. Right now you’re probably glaring at the computer screen trying to figure out where this is going, but I can assure you it is going in a just manner. Stay with me….
It’s the perpetrators fault because THEY made the choice to assault you, to hurt you and traumatize you in some way. It’s THEIR fault because you never asked for this to happen, you were innocent. Yes, that’s right, you were completely innocent. It doesn’t matter what you were doing, what you were wearing, where you were or if you were sober or under the influence. You were and still are COMPLETELY INNOCENT!
It’s the perpetrator’s fault because that person(s) touched you in ways that you should never have had to experience unless you had asked for it, and you never asked for that. That person stole a bit of your innocence that day(s) that the incident occurred. He/she took everything that felt sacred, took everything that felt like it was yours.
Think about it: from the time you were born, whoever took care of you taught you right from wrong and they probably also taught you the importance and difference between “good touch” and “bad touch.” Those people that cared about you taught you that there were ‘private’ places on your body that no one, not even you was supposed to touch. But then someone took advantage of you (of me) in some way and in a sense that person(s) ruined you, ruined your ‘private’ place. And that wasn’t fair, that wasn’t right. Maybe the person(s) told you not to tell or maybe they threatened you in some way to keep you quiet; and with the silence comes guilt. Guilt of what was done to you and so unfairly asked of you. Maybe they shamed you in some way or made comments about your body and what it looks like, how it functions.
And because of those comments and those touches, you feel ashamed. You feel soiled and ruined and like the person(s) who did this to you will forever be inside of you and on your skin. I get it, believe me I do. Not only are you ashamed of what happened to you but you’re ashamed of the body you have; the body that they took advantage of. In fact, you may even be scared of your body. And really all you want is control over something because nothing else is going the right way, and so you choose to control your body in some way. You take out your hatred and anger on the only thing that seems to have deceived you; your body.
Everyone controls differently and there are many ways in which a person may try to control themselves or control life; the vast majority of these controls come in the form of an addiction. I will not list those addictions here. It is normal to long for and want control BUT it is the way you gain control that is important. If you control your body, emotions or life by a form of addictive control or harmful control please seek help. You are far to valuable an asset to be lost to this world.
For me, I felt and sometimes still feel negatively towards my body because of what happened. In fact I don’t ever remember having a large amount of body image issues before I was raped. But the way I feel is not my fault and it isn’t your fault either. The blame falls on the perpetrator.
It wasn’t OK for that person(s) to hurt you and take advantage of you the way they did. It wasn’t OK for them to take something so private and personal from you without your consent. You never asked for that, but you are the one that has to deal with the repercussions of their choice. Know that you handled or are handling your situation the best way that you know how, and that’s OK. This healing journey is yours and yours alone; you control the journey. Control, yes, you DO have control over this process of healing-you can control to take back the rights to your body.
Take care, xoxo