When Survivors Have to Survive Again
Choosing to survive after repeatedly being trafficked and sexually assaulted was the hardest decision I have ever made. When I finally made the decision to acknowledge the pain I endured and start working through the trauma it was extremely difficult. Not only did I have to work through the trauma, but I had to put things in place so that I could survive and eventually thrive. I went to therapy weekly (sometimes more), I went to a support group for victims of sexual assault weekly, I learned not to isolate myself, I learned to get out and do things with friends even when I would rather be alone and I learned to have routine.
Fast forward seven years to January 2020 and I’m no longer a victim. I’m no longer just a survivor. I’m a warrior. I now speak at events all over, I’ve done several news interviews, I’ve testified in numerous legislative committees in order to help get a bill passed and signed into law, I’ve been appointed by Attorney General Ashley Moody, to the board of directors for Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking, I have received various awards and I’ve done many other things.
March 2020 arrives and suddenly everything changes due to Coronavirus. I’ve been finding myself struggling so much lately and I realized it’s because the things I learned in therapy that have helped me get to where I am no longer apply. I’m no longer able to get up and go to work every day… there went my routine. I’m no longer allowed to go on outings with friends or do groups activities. In therapy I was always told not to isolate and now I’m supposed to stay at home. I never learned how to survive alone.
I’m learning how survive this pandemic by putting things in place to help me. I’ve gotten into a new routine, I’m working from home, I’m helping my nephew with his “distant learning”, I’m writing more again, I’m reaching out to others who are struggling, I FaceTime with friends, I’m trying to keep busy and be productive, but I’ve also been allowing myself to have downtime.
Many survivors are struggling right now. We already survived horrible trauma and now we’re having to survive again. The number of drug overdoses, baker acts, suicides, domestic violence reports and child abuse reports are increasing right now. Human trafficking, sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse don’t stop because of a pandemic… it increases.
Children who look forward to going to school because it’s a safe place for them are now home where it’s not safe. Women who are abusive relationships and normally have 8 hours a day that their abuser is away at work, are now stuck at home with them and are not getting a break from the abuse or an opportunity to get help. Trafficking continues to happen and now there are less people in the public who may come into contact with a victim.
Now is the time we need to be social… not distant!
Social distancing should really be called physical distancing. We can still have a connection with others and be social on social media, phone calls, texts, video calls, etc. Check in with others to see how they are doing and let them know you care.
We can all survive this pandemic.