Surviving Trauma Through Sisterhood
During my senior year of high school, I was sexually assaulted by someone I had once considered a close friend. After my assault, I felt a range of emotions, I felt violated, confused, hurt, angry, lost, disgusting and so much more. These feelings were made worse by the many friends around me who remained in contact with my perpetrator, either because they didn’t believe my story or didn’t care enough to take it seriously. The summer following my assault, I was in a dark place. I felt abandoned by many of the friends I grew up with. I felt confused as to how someone I knew could violate me so deeply. Luckily, my parents and a couple close friends were supportive, loving and reassuring during these difficult times.
The comfort of my family and close friends was washed away when I moved halfway across the country to start my first year of college at Pepperdine University. I was living in Malibu, a beautiful place by anyone’s standards, yet I felt so alone and hurt. I was scared of the new world I found myself in. It had been months since my assault and the possibility of moving forward and healing still seemed so far out of reach. I had no idea how to get to know this new person I was becoming, how to let go of those who had hurt me back home, or how to start college while juggling these complicated and confusing feelings.
Fast forward a few months, I was going through recruitment. I was looking for people who would help me figure out who I was and maybe help me get through what had happened to me. Joining Pi Phi is when I began to truly understand how to heal. I became extremely close with a few of my sisters. They wanted to get to know me intimately and help me through the memories and emotions associated with my sexual assault.
I began to no longer fear the world around me and became eager to explore it and know it once again. If it wasn’t for the way my new sisters had loved and supported me, I wouldn’t have healed and grown in the ways that I did. I was in desperate need of the love, support and validation they offered me; without it, I’m not sure who I would be today. I’m writing this to remind every Pi Phi of how deeply important and powerful it is to love and support one another. Through the constant love, support and kindness of my sisters, I am secure in who I am: I am confident, I am funny, I am smart, I am empathetic, I am strong, I am curious, and I am a survivor. With this, I have newfound strength, resilience, empathy and understanding of new feelings and experiences.
If it wasn’t for the way my new sisters had loved and supported me, I wouldn’t have healed and grown in the ways that I did.
I’m writing this to remind every Pi Phi of how deeply important and powerful it is to love and support one another. Unfortunately, many of our sisters are survivors of sexual assault. Sexual assault is far too common, and we have to help our sisters who have experienced it. We must always listen to their stories, believe what they say and validate their feelings. We must love them when they can’t love themselves, offer a shoulder to cry on when they feel like they can’t breathe and be a constant source of support; both when they feel unable to stand on their own and when they are feeling strong.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, you are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or through the Online Hotline.
Published April 16, 2020