By Kalie Ganem

CW: trauma

Recovery from sexual assault for me comes in waves. Waves of self deprecation and sadness, to the point where I will scour my life for evidence that I am worth nothing. I will go through periods where I will pick apart every comment and gesture made to me and look for signs of mistreatment.

I will take enormous leaps to convince myself I deserved what happened to me.

Something I definitely never saw coming is how much of my life it has affected. I knew survivors would be sad, I knew they have trouble with their confidence and trust. But I didn’t know the idea of wearing shorts would be so terrifying to me. I didn’t know I would hate the feeling of anyone- boys, girls, teachers, friends, strangers- looking at me. I didn’t know that ignoring the feelings in the day would make them come out at night, often making me wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares.

I didn’t know it would affect not only my relationship with myself, but every other person in my life, causing trust issues in the one person who does nothing but show me support and love. Somehow, this five second incident has made me so insecure in myself that I stopped believing I deserve the love I receive.

I never understood women who thought they were to blame for their own assault, until I became one. When someone else has entered your internal space, it is so hard not to take the blame and internalize that too.

I, along with every other survivor, still have to work on separating myself from what happened to me.

It's just taking me awhile to learn how.

Recovery comes in waves. The key is knowing how to ride them out.