*This site contains content that may be triggering to survivors of rape, sexual assault and abuse. For places you can go for support and advice please see our ‘Get Support’ page.*
‘Using The Words’ is a project to share stories of surviving rape and sexual abuse. On these pages, you will find the voices of people who are living through these experiences. They discuss what happened to them, the impact it had, and how they coped with what was happening. The stories are told by survivors, and the people close to them. Many of these stories will be published as a zine in Autumn 2013, but as we collect stories and edit for the zine we’re going to use this blog to share some of the stories that have been sent to us. If you would like to send in a story, please see the ‘Tell Your Story’ page.
We started this project as part of a journey of personal healing. We are survivors, and we are the partners, friends, and family of survivors. We wanted to reach out and understand how our experiences connect to others, and to try to find a language to name what was going on. This is the place we chose. And these are some reasons we chose it.
Sharing our knowledge
We wanted to create a resource that could be shaped and shared. As we go on our personal journeys we often feel very alone, and unsure of how to cope with what is happening. We wanted to create a space where people could see that they are very far from alone, and strategies for survival are shared. We also wanted it to be a space where people could read testimonies from survivors and supporters about parts of the journey yet to come, in the hope it would help them to feel more prepared.
Creating a language of survival
It can feel very scary to try to name and describe our experiences. The word ‘rape’ can make people visibly flinch, or look away. Though for each person the words are different, we want to try and break some of the stigma of discussing rape and abuse. We wanted to create a space where it is ok to use whatever words we need to describe what happened, and where together we can create our own language of survival. This is also a space where friends and relatives can come to start to listen, to confront these words, and to prepare themselves to listen to those close to them.
In our own communities
Through our journeys we have come to understand how ‘out there’ others think rape and abuse is. The media would have us think it only happens in other countries, in the 1970s, to other types of people, to weak people, to ‘victims’. We wanted to create this space to show that it happens everywhere, all the time, to people who are like you as well as people who aren’t, to people you know.
That’s why we write, and why we would like others to write with us.