All this week we will be sharing real stories with our real bodies as we reveal our beauty to the world. We hope you are inspired both in what you read and in what you see. Today's story is not an easy read, but it is worth reading! Everyone is beautiful, never hide it or stuff it away!!!! Share your own stories and images with us on facebook and instagram #beautifulcampaign #everyoneisbeautiful.
When this assignment was mentioned, I thought of several things to say. I’m the mom of 5. I was a young new mom at 20 and an older new mom at 40! But what I need to say & share is: I’m beautiful because I am the 1 in 6, and I’m a survivor, not a victim.
Statistics say that 1 in 6 women will be the victim of sexual assault in their lifetime. Almost 13 years ago, I became a part of that demographic as I was a single mom, sleeping in her home with 3 young girls and awoke to a stranger in my home who had been stalking me, and others of similar build, unbeknownst to me. I lived in small midwest town, a beautiful rural community of less than 800 people and had no idea this monster was among us. My doors & windows were locked, I’d done everything “right”. And yet, just by being a woman, I became a victim. I’m beautiful because I stand before you, wrinkles & stretch marks & all, and I’m alive! It turns out this was an escalating crime spree, and the public had no idea because of an effort to prevent bad publicity.
With time I knew that because my children & I got out alive, I had done everything right. I slowly put my life back together. There was an arrest, DNA match, and I was able to give a deposition strong enough to make the prosecution accept a plea agreement. Then I gave a victim’s impact statement at sentencing to get some closure. I was able to meet the other women – who had called in reports of someone peeping in their windows, breaking in when no one was home, stealing photos & undergarments... One woman moved out of town in the middle of the night prior to my assault becasue she was so scared.
13 years later, he’s still in prison. I found a therapist, and then a better one. I found my Happily Ever After, we got married & have two little boys & my little girls are grown or well on their way. Life goes on & it’s a good one. My assault is just one page, not the whole book. Late August always makes me jumpy and I suspect there will always be warm summer nights I wake up with my heart racing at 4 AM.
But I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I am able to hold my head up & know there’s no “well, she...” when my story is told. Isn't that what people say when they hear of a rape? “Well, she....” went out with him. Was walking alone at night. Was running in the early morning. Took the drink. Wore that skirt. Passed out drunk. Didn’t say no. I understand that this is human nature. If we can think of a reason why this happened, then we can sleep at night knowing that we, our mothers, sisters, daughters are “safe”. But that isn't how it works. And the “well, she...” conversations means that when it DOES happen or HAS happened to someone we love, they think they deserved it, as that is the message they have heard from people, from media, over the years. Unless “she” is the perpetrator there is NEVER any room for “well, she...”. Never.
1 in 6 women. I’m a lucky one. I’m able to claim this & know it’s just part of me. It does not define me. Others aren’t so lucky. Be aware of the things we say & think so that if this ever touches, or has touched, someone near to us, they are able to know they will have a support system in you. If YOU, reading this, are also a 1 in 6....it’s a crummy club, huh? But you are amazing. You didn’t deserve it. You did nothing wrong. You are here with us today, and that means you are a strong, beautiful survivor too.
I chose the Vintage Binkini Crop top by Dandelions N Dungarees -- fun but still mom practical (and I love that there are cups built in to amplify or support areas that might need it!) Bottoms are modified from a Jalie underwear pattern. So here I am, and I am BEAUTIFUL.