Two weeks ago, I wrote about Bill Zeller, a man who survived multiple instances child rape and sexual abuse and went on to attend Princeton and develop software used by millions of people, but who ultimately could not handle the gravity of what had happened to him, and resorted to suicide.
Regardless of the severity or degree of experience, many, many of us have gone down this path— myself included. When you’re fucked as a kid, or even as an adult, it completely destroys your sense of self. Indeed, it leaks over into many, many other aspects of your life, and it can become almost unavoidable for some people. Being a survivor of sexual abuse is not something that, like an actor or a musician performing on the stage, you can just turn off and forget— it hangs around whether you want it to or not.
For a survivor, living each day can be a huge challenge. Our experiences may be inseparably tied into our jobs, our relationships, our romantic lives, or our families. For some, it is impossible to avoid those daily reminders of what happened. It can become really fucking scary to just go outside and check the mail, or it can be terrifying to go into a job interview where you are trapped in a room, one against three men in suits. These situations shouldn’t be hard, but they are for someone who is a survivor of sexual abuse.
This is why, if you’re a survivor of sexual abuse, just living right now— at this very moment— is an act of revolution. Whether you consciously recognize it or not, you know that there are social, political, and economic systems which have enabled and even encouraged sexual violence and other forms of oppression against you. These same systems have an interest in your silence, and if that means you have to die, then all the better for them.
Each and every person out there— even the people who are not survivors and who are simply reading this to learn and understand— is committing an act of revolution. Even if you aren’t actively pushing for change, by sheer virtue of your being alive and being able to affect or influence even one person, you are helping to fight for something better.
If you are reading this, you are an awesome, brave person.