Letter 1 Letter 2 Introduction My biggest frustration throughout my healing has been trying to make people understand me and what I am going through. Of course this is impossible unless they have been through it themselves. I pray they never understand the way we do. But in order to be a supportive friend or relative you must have some understanding. So I came up with this idea: write a letter to your friends or family about what you would most like them to understand. My hope is that this will help the frustration on both sides. Friends can't be mind-readers and we can't always tell you what is wrong. So I asked the mailing lists that I am on to help me out with this project. I think all the letters are wonderful. Below is my letter and others. If you would like to add a letter feel free to email me the letter at webmaster@aftertherain.com. Dear everyone, I first want everyone to stop asking me to starting acting like my old self again. You must understand that what I have been through has changed me forever and nothing you say to me will change that. That I didn't want or ask for it should go without saying. I know that I act tough alot of the time but I am not as in control as I seem. I do need a shoulder and help even if I don't ask for it. If I tell you that something bothers me and won't go into details don't question me on it. Like when I tell you to change the station when Guns&Roses comes on. I was forced to listen to "Welcome to the Jungle" while it was all hapening. An understatement that I don't want to hear it now. Understand that I have alot of trust issues. If I push you away or constantly test the waters of our friendship it is for that reason. I sometimes can't accept that you are all truly my friends. Sometimes I don't feel worthy of friendship. It is very hard to talk about so if I find a way to bring it up please listen and understand what a big step that is. As survivors we are tough to be friends with. But as hard as we are on you, we are harder on ourselves. We wake up in the middle of the night with horrid nightmares. We get triggered by things we see and hear and smell without warning. We try desperately to get ahold of ourselves in public when we have flashbacks and people think we are nuts. But we are getting better. And someday soon we will be able to return the favor of friendship you gave us. Bright Blessings, Nikki To my friends and family: I try so hard to overcome what happened to me. You may think that my progress is slow, or that I should have gotten over it a long time ago, but it doesn't work that way. I battle with this every day; it doesn't simply go away. Sexual assault, or sexual abuse, is a crime that stays with the survivor for his or her entire life. I was lucky not to be raped or killed, but I was traumatized severely by what my attacker did. My attacker had a knife, and I was beaten and sexually assaulted. Just because I was not raped does not mean that the assault was easy on me, nor does it mean I'm going to just "get over it." His intent was to rape me, and I know that all too well. It is a painful reality for me, knowing that what happened was not a movie or book - it really happened to me. However, I am not a victim - I am a survivor. I don't want to be pitied, and I don't want to be babied. A little understanding goes a long way; if you were to just let me talk to you, and not judge what I'm saying, that is the ultimate gift you can give me. What happened was not my fault, so don't tell me, "Oh, you shouldn't have..." because that only adds to my guilt. I struggle with blame and doubt every day. Just listen to me when I want to talk. Don't give me advice unless you've been through it; just be supportive and let me talk. After all, I wouldn't give a parent advice on how to raise his son, not being a parent myself, so why should you give me advice on how to get through a traumatic event? I need to sort out my feelings, and verbalizing is a step towards doing so. I don't want to feel as if I cannot talk about it, simply because it's taboo. It happened, and that should be the issue at hand. How can it be that you cannot hear it because it is too painful for you, when I actually went through it? I need to talk, and I need somebody to listen. I need to know that you love me unconditionally, and do not blame me for what happened. I need to know that you still view me as a strong, competent human being. Don't be afraid to touch me; I'm not "damaged." Just because I was sexually assaulted doesn't mean that I am delicate. Of course, I still have my boundries for touch, as does everyone. Sometimes a friendly hug wouldn't hurt, so don't be afraid that you're going to break me by doing so. The bottom line: I am human, just like you. Keep in mind how you would like to be treated, and that is how I would like to be treated. Keli Letter 3 hi nicole, here's something for your webpage I want my husband to know that because I didn't tell him for so long, it dosen't mean I don't love him. I want my mother to know that I didn't ask for it. I want my friends to know that it wasn't their fault I couldn't talk about it. I want my son to know that his daddy loves him, even if the DNA test comes up that he is not his biological child. I want myself to realize that it was not my fault, it was his. Sisters in Survival, Suzy Letter 4 I would like people to understand there aren't any easy answers. I want people to stop trying to "fix" something that is unfixable I want people to understand that sometimes words aren't necessary. I want people to understand how much it hurts when they degrade other women. I want men to understand that rape jokes aren't funny and that using the phrase "I got raped" to describe getting ripped off, makes me feel yucky inside. I want people to see me as a person and not as a rape victim. I want people to understand that no matter what I did or how stupid I was, it wasn't my fault. That's all I can think of at the moment. Thank you so much for helping me get that out of my system. Lots of love, Katie Letter 5 I don't want to explain what happened. I don't want to answer questions like, did it feel good, why did you let... I wish that my friends would understand that this isn't something you just get over. I can't just put it behind me. I TRY as hard as I can to put it in the past. But what I can I do about the flash backs in the middle of the day? How can I stop my nightmares? I'm so tired of feeling guilty for having a bad day...this is something that effects you emotionally, menatlly & physically. I try to be patient with my family & friends because I know they can't understand. If it's never happened to you, no matter what you think you can NOT imagine how much it hurts or how hard it is. You can't imagine the terror, the helplessness, the lonilness & confussion. I wish my friends would just be patient when I'm not in the best mood. It's hard to tell someone how to help. I mean I imagine we all want different things in recovery. I don't want to talk about it, I want to pretend it never happened. Yet I want to be able to have a bad day every now & then & disappear for awhile. Letter 6 dear everyone i guess i need to let ya know what its like day to day. i guess sometimes i get a little scared like when i waz little. i have really changed, i can no longer be that little trusting girl that u all knew. since my R*pe i had to grow up i could no longer be a kid. thats the one thing i wish i could have back, my childhood. i wish i could just make u understand i can no longer be a trusting easygoing kid. i have to be a cuastious adult that has learned that she has to protect herself. i wish u could have been there to protect me but i know ur ashamed of what happened. so i have learned to rely on myself. hope this helps nikki. hugsnhealin angel Letter 7 Dear Nikki, I would like them to understand that it wasn't my fault and that I didn't ask for it. I would hope that they would support me and give me strength and support in my time of need because I need it desperately. I would hope that I would have their understanding. I would also hope for some caring thrown in there so that I knew that they really were there for me. I would hope that their love for me would not change because of what happened. And that I needed to talk about the rape as much as they would not want to but it is important in my healing process to talk about the rape because then it doesn't make it bigger than me. It also makes it real. And when it makes it real it is easier to talk about. Well that is about it. I hope this is helpful. May peace and tranquility find inner peace in your inner spirit. As always, Melody Letter 8 dear Loved ones, Please understand why I didn't tell. Please don't ask why I didn't fight back. Please never look at me with pity or disgust, because that is what I fear most. Please forgive the pain my silence may have caused you, but I didn't know any other way to react. When I was angry, it wasn't at you, it was at "him". Please don't expect me to "go back to normal". I need you to understand that right now I have no capacity for trust. Please realize that my silence wasn't meant to hurt those I love, but to protect my child from ever knowing how he was concieved. But most of all, please love me. T. Letter 9 To my parents: I know sometimes I haven't always acted like the perfect daughter that you wanted. Know that I'm not perfect. Allow me to have time to explore my feelings. Let me feel what I feel. It hurts me more hearing you tell me that what I am going through is not what I'm actually going through. What I want is a hug and support, not fighting about the past. I may seem distant sometimes, but I'm lost and not sure of what to do. It is nothing against you or anyone else. I just need time to sort through all thoughts swirling around my mind. I love you but sometimes I need to be alone. What I need most is the freedom to grieve and move on as well as the freedom to come to you when I feel it is appropriate. Being forced to talk doesn't help. It just pushes me away further. I love you but I do need time and space sometimes. To my brother: I love you so much and I know you're probably really confused as to why I sometimes treat you harshly. Part of that is normal older sister/younger brother relationships. Part is because I'm scared and alone. I want to tell you so much about what happened to me but it must wait a few more years. I know when I do tell you that you will be angry that I didn't tell you now. I know you'll say that you could handle it because you are a year older than I was when I went through this experience, but I want to spare you from the hurt and anger that I have had to deal with. I have nothing against you. I treasure our relationship. You're the best brother I could ever hope for. And know this: when I sometimes get upset with our sisters, its not because I'm angry with them...it is hard for me to see them sometimes because they were born around the same time this happened to me. It is all too much to handle sometimes. I love you all tremendously. Thank you for putting up with me through all my craziness. To my friends: Thank you for your support. You never pushed me and gave me the room and space I needed. I could count on you to provide a shoulder to cry on and to provide fun and excitement to help me go on with living again. I don't know how I'd make it without you. Thanks! <>< ~Love Always~ Lindsay ><>