The emotions that victims of abuse experience are complicated, painful, and take many people years to heal from. Part of what makes them so difficult to process is that abuse isolates people. Even when victims consciously recognize that the abuse wasn't their fault, the trauma of the assault can make them feel ashamed and powerless. Many victims don't want to talk to other people about what they went through, at least not right away, because telling another person can be like reliving the experience, and can make them feel even more vulnerable. Through writing, victims can create a safe space for themselves that is free from judgment. It can help them find clarity in their trauma, release their emotions, and process ways to move forward. Writing, along with other creative activities, are ways to exert agency and control. They give life meaning when life seems meaningless and cruel.
Sexual assault is defined as any type of unwanted sexual contact through words or actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will without their consent. It occurs in every community, regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, or age.
1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape sometime in their life.
1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experience sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lifetimes.
74% of adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well (one fifth of these assaults were committed by a family member).
Beginning in the 1990s, Sexual Assault Awareness Month has given organizations such as the National Sexual Violence Resource Center the opportunity to create resources on sexual assault prevention. Their 2016 campaign focused on the “building blocks of prevention by communicating how individuals, communities, and the private sectors can take action to promote safety, respect, and equality.” Their website is full of resources for survivors, advocates, and educators.
While the alertness and promotion of prevention of sexual abuse is a concern that seems to have always been around, recently, campaigns such as It’s On Us and performances by stars like Lady Gaga, have brought sexual assault awareness into the spotlight.
Wise Ink has turned to two of our authors who have used their writing and creativity to help them heal from sexual abuse.
“Child sexual abuse is a hidden topic surrounded by shame and secrecy. This silent epidemic happens in the poorest communities and the most affluent neighborhoods. It is time we brought it into the light. It is not a victim’s problem, or a family problem, it is our problem. It is my intention to create awareness through sharing my story, my personal artwork, and the creative tools that moved me from survivor to thriver. I want victims to know they are not alone. There is hope.”
Rae is a leader in using creative expression to nurture self-worth, resilience, healing and social change. After suffering from the long term consequences of child sexual abuse, she has spent the last fifteen years teaching children and families how to use creativity to improve their health, relationships, and self esteem. Her book, The Creative Activist is an inspirational tool containing 36 stories from people who have embraced their personal power and creative gifts to create a change in the world around them.
Her book can be purchased on amazon.
“Writing reawakened and strengthened my connection to my inner voice, which is so vital for guiding me in healing from trauma. I write and release the secrecy, shame, and self-blame of sexual abuse. It’s a way to listen to myself with compassion, validating that my experiences and ongoing pain deserve time and space to be heard. And often, the emotional turmoil then eases. In our society, the impacts of sexual trauma and the details of survivors’ healing journeys still largely remain invisible. One of my goals as a writer is to bring these details out into the open, to educate the public and give hope to survivors.”
Naomi Ardea is an artist, massage therapist, and early childhood teacher. Her book The Art of Healing from Sexual Trauma: Tending Body and Soul Through Creativity, Nature, and Intuition won the 2017 IPPY Award and also was a Midwest Book Award Finalist. It is available through amazon.
Learn more at: www.naomiardea.com
If you or anyone you know are a victim of sexual assault, seek assistance at your local sexual assault center or call 1-800-656-4673 or visit www.nsvrc.org.