At first, I convinced myself that I was okay, but as the months went by I could feel myself coming apart.
Several years ago, I was drugged at a bar, taken off somewhere, and raped. At first, I convinced myself that I was okay, but as the months went by I could feel myself coming apart. The flashbacks and panic attacks started with increasing frequency and intensity. I was crying every day, became self-destructive, and lost my desire to live.
When I initially reported the attack, my friend that went with me to the police picked up a Safe Connections brochure there. I couldn’t admit I needed help then. I had gone numb. About a year later, when I was deep into my depression, my friend pulled out the brochure. She had held onto it all that time. I called Safe Connections and took my first steps toward a new life.
Safe Connections and took my first steps toward a new life.
Healing with Safe Connections
First, I joined a support group called Healing Through Art. My denial that I needed help stayed in place until the second or third session when we began working on T-shirts for a project. I was using red paint as a stand-in for the blood that had covered my white top the night I was raped. At once I felt it. My numbness shattered, and cracked my plastered-on “I’m fine” smile that had been holding back all my pain, anger, sadness, and helplessness. Overwhelmed, I fled the room and sobbed.
At that time, I was waiting to be matched with a therapist. The amazing team at Safe Connections saw that I couldn’t wait any longer, and I was given my own extraordinary counselor. Her grace, patience and kindness allowed me to let down my heavily guarded walls. When I didn’t know how to keep going, she rallied me, taught me how to be kinder to myself.
Managing Emotions and Mental Health
At one point, when the depression and despair overwhelmed me, I lost my job. The fact that I didn’t have to pay fees for my therapy or group sessions was essential. I didn’t have $10 to spare, much less $100. I was able to get the help I desperately needed, when I needed it the most, because of people like you who donate.
With my therapist’s guidance and insights from continued group sessions, I mastered techniques and coping skills for managing my emotions and mental health. Now, if something triggers me, I feel confident, able to pause, and if appropriate, walk away. Before I would ruminate on my mistakes, cause myself more suffering. Now, I can face them, learn from them, and grow. It’s okay being me, just like I am.
The impact therapy has had on my life is immeasurable. I can talk about what happened, which allows me to support other women struggling with similar experiences. I always refer them to Safe Connections. With so many survivors stepping forward right now through the #MeToo movement, Safe Connections is even more vital. I am very proud of all who have the courage to share their stories, and I feel deeply for those who remain silent.
So, yes #MeToo! I want you to know that because of Safe Connections, I am not damaged or traumatized. I am strong and capable. I was worth saving. I appreciate my life, and I take pride in the work I do—work that I never would have accomplished without my time at Safe Connections.
Life is so much better for me now. I feel like I’ve come out on the other side, stronger after the hard work of reclaiming my life. Please join me in making a year-end donation to Safe Connections. Your support will provide life-changing, life-saving services for another survivor in need. This can be the difference between life and death. I know it was for me.
You gave me back my life and made it better. My gratitude for you fills my heart and touches all I do.
PS: To survivors who are struggling, I say, “Don’t give up.” You’re not alone even when you are in the worst of it. In that first group session, I heard another survivor say, “I choose to thrive because I survived.” That stayed with me. You will thrive too. Be patient with yourself. For me, it took lots of work and years of therapy at Safe Connections. That’s okay. We all need different amounts of time to heal.