Editor’s note: This is part three of an eight-part series about sexual assault awareness.
After I told my supervisor of the sexual assault, a strange tension began between us. A few weeks later, my son became ill. All of a sudden, I had three major stresses … lack of good sleep and nightmares, an unfamiliar stressed relationship with my supervisor, and a sick child whom I could not instantly make better.
I was overwhelmed. I took emergency leave to support my son and family. Additionally, I sought ways to relieve my stress. I supported my son, but I was limited and reactionary to his needs, the doctor’s news and the treatment plan.
Additionally, my emergency leave added to the tensions in my relationship with my supervisor so out of desperation, I addressed the sexual assault I had avoided for almost 20 years. I needed, and my family needed me to be healthy and free of nightmares now more than ever. Addressing the sexual assault was the best decision I ever made for my health, my family and my career, but I’m sad it took desperation for me to examine the horrific sexual assault event instead of avoiding it.
What you can do: 1.) Don’t label sexual assault survivors as “victims”– we are survivors. 2.) If you are a sexual assault survivor, please don’t wait until your life is so stressed the only thing you can control is learning new coping methods to recover from your sexual assault. 3.) Your response to any sexual assault survivor should be: “I’m sorry,” “It’s not your fault,” and “What can I do to help?” [Mr. Jeff Bucholt, Director of We End Violence, 2013]. I wish my supervisor had been given this valuable advice before I told him of my sexual assault.
About the Author: This is an event in my life I want to share with you so you can gain insight from my experience as part of the “Story Teller’s Campaign.” As part of the “Every Airman has a Story Campaign, I am a confident young lady–I like to ensure I leave every program I touch better than I found it. I am and have been many things: a mother, sister, wife, daughter, snowboarder, adventure racer, motorcycle rider, leader, program manager, engineer, physicist, Air Liaison Officer, United Nations Military Observer and U.S. delegate to NATO. My philosophy is “bloom where planted and never ignore something you can fix or influence fixing.” I teach and empower my team members to be better than me. Finally, I can make a difference and so can you.