Written to our Blog email from a anonymous survivor.
Here is my testimony:
I am telling this story anonymously because I don’t really want anyone to know my identity. I still feel a great deal of shame, even though I should not be ashamed. But, I feel it is important to let everyone know just how tough it can be for anyone to recover from.
Around 9 years ago, I was sexually assaulted twice on two different occasions by another man. I stored any recollection of it away for over 8 years before I finally realized what actually happened to me. I realized it when we were all in XXXX Hall for the SAPR training. We were watching the video about how it can happen to anyone, and that’s when I realized it.
However, when I realized it, it felt like it just happened to me.
Initially, I felt lost. I was confused as to why I buried it for so many years, and why I never thought it really happened. In my mind, I denied that it happened, but somehow I knew it was there and I never wanted to think about it. I was so confused as to why I let it happen to me twice on two occasions by the same man, and why I never treated it as something that was a big deal.
The next few months after realizing that I was sexually assaulted, I struggled with anxiety nearly every day. At one point, I was given a strong prescription to help me deal with it. I also had a very hard time concentrating at work. I was not able to get much work done while I was at work and I struggled to act as if I was ok. None of my co-workers or leadership knew about my sexual assault, which only made coming to work more difficult. I can remember one time while I was at work, I needed to complete a very simple task that I have done several times before, but for some reason I was so confused about how to do it, that I had to leave my desk before I became emotional.
I also struggled to sleep at night. I was finding myself loading up on caffeine and energy drinks to make it through the day.
There were times where I felt so violated by what he did to me that I felt dirty and violated, but I could not just take a shower to feel better. It was an overwhelming feeling and probably the hardest thing I have ever had to overcome.
I had very little confidence. Normally, I had no problems giving briefings to whoever needed one, but I told a co-worker that I would not give a commander’s brief.
My family relationships were suffering as well. At many times, I felt very distant from my wife. I was very irritable with my kids. Also, because I couldn’t sleep, I also had no energy to take care of my kids.
I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have the support from two Victim Advocates here in the XXth. Whenever I needed someone to talk to, and many times complain to, or whenever I just needed help, they were always in touch with me. They even set up counseling off-base for me. For the two VAs, thank you.
I am not sure if this story will ever prevent any future sexual assaults. But, I do hope that if there is someone dealing with it, that they will take comfort in knowing that it will pass. The counseling I am receiving has really helped me. My counselor does a great job in reassuring me and helping me overcome these difficulties. Some counseling sessions were tougher than others, but I have been getting better every day.
I am so very thankful for the care that the Air Force has provided me, and now I truly understand what a great Air Force family is.