Sexual Assault Survivors Speak Out to Help Other Victims Find Their Voice

It's never going to be easy or comfortable to listen to somebody's story of sexual assault, but it's so, so important that we do. Our willingness to listen will (hopefully) broaden our understanding of what can be classified as sexual assault and, ultimately, create a more welcoming environment for victims to speak up and out against their assaulters. That's why we love hearing from seven survivors of sexual assault who shared their stories with RAINN (or the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) -- especially as we recognize the first official National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

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The stories coming from these women and men will rip your heart to shreds in 30 seconds flat, but we have to listen to them for their sake and ours.

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It's not that they need our help -- thankfully organizations like RAINN exist to do that part -- but we need theirs: By sharing their stories, they're making more space for other victims to speak up when they need to, as well.

In addition to explaining the circumstances of their abuse, these survivors talk about why they chose to reach out to RAINN -- even though in some cases they did so years and years after the fact. Here's what some had to say, but the rest of RAINN's amazing Survivor Series can be found on its YouTube page.

"I really just wanted someone to listen and be like, 'Hey, it's not crazy that you feel that way,'" Samentha says.

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"The more you hold it in, the more it poisons you," Lucy says. "With RAINN, it's about healing that and making a safe space. You're not broken. The part of you that wants to heal is stronger than the part of you that's broken."

"By people telling their story like I'm doing, it shows people who are victims, you know what, they're saying it now. It's okay if I tell," Adam explains. "I'm telling my story because I don't want anyone to ever have to go through what I went through."

 

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, you can find help and support at RAINN.org, the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1 800 656 HOPE (4673), or Safe Horizon Crime Victims Hotline 1 866 689 HELP (4357).

 

Image via Rana Faure/Mother Image/ Getty Images Grant/RAINN

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