I kind of debated with myself on where to post this. I wasn't for sure if this should go here or where ever. Even though this was written specifically to sexual assault survivors the same also applies to all other forms of abuse. (Mods feel free to move this if you feel it needs to be) In the United States on average one sexual assault happens every 127 seconds. That's just over 28 acts of sexual assault each and every hour. Nine out of ten victims of sexual assault are women, and a staggering 44% are younger then 18 years of age. 73% of all predators seek out victims who are family members, friends, or friends and children of family and friends. Almost 18 out of 100 women will be a victim of a sexual assault sometime in their life. 50% of all sexual assaults happen within 1 mile of the victim's home. It is estimated that only 4 sexual assaults out of 10 are reported to the police. The lack of reported rapes, inadequacy of the court system, and the few and far between false claims of rape, lead to a sad reality that over 93% of all sexual predators never spend a day behind bars as a punishment for their crime. With such horrible statistics it isn't a surprise that so many people in society have emotional problems. Rape, molestation, and every other form of assault have a detrimental affect on a person's sense of self-worth. Many times people feel so worthless as a result of sexual assault that they feel they no longer have value in this world. This lowered self-esteem can lead to drug abuse, acts of self-harm, poor hygiene, depression, and ultimately suicide. One of the most common things you will hear from someone who was assaulted is, "It's my fault". This is a statement that bewilders so many people who have never been a victim. Even when a victim hears of another victims assault and that victims belief that it is their fault they too are confused. Why do victims have that mentality? I have read many, many, stories of other person’s abuse, but never once have I come to the conclusion that it was their fault or that their actions somehow cause them to deserve what happened to them. Still I have on several occasions felt that my own personal abuse was at times my own fault. I am beginning to form a theory on why this is. (NOTE: This is only my opinion) Why is a victim so quick to blame themselves instead of their assailant? I think people in general seek personal acceptance in life, family, friends, and relationships. Part of that need for acceptance unwittingly blinds us to the truth. Often that truth is that those we care about don't always have our best interest at heart. As an example: Which is easier to believe on a pure emotional level? That a person you love and would never dream of hurting has decided one day to assault you, thus making all the love you thought they showed you a lie; or is it easier to believe that they do love you and somehow your actions confused them and they didn't mean to hurt you. From an emotional view point the second one is the easiest to accept. The realization that someone we love could voluntarily hurt us in such a terrible way is devastating. With me it was and sometimes still is easier to irrationally blame my actions or inactions for the abuse I suffered. I often blamed myself for getting too drunk, but seldom did I see the fact that my father was providing liquor to me when I was 13, 14, 15, and a 16 years old. Instead of blaming him for nearly 3 years of abuse, I often got angry with myself for not putting a stop to it earlier. Eventually his abuse toward me ended with a brutal rape that I later blamed on myself for not escaping the many times I had the opportunity. The reality is that no one asks to be raped, no one asks to be molested, and no one asks to be assaulted. Further, no one deserves to be abused. Still being the emotional beings that make us human we often blame ourselves. Being on the receiving end of a sexual or physical assault makes us feel worthless, and can make us feel unworthy of happiness. I have news for each and every one who has ever been raped, molested, beaten, or any other type of abuse. You are alive, you are breathing, and you have lived through a terrible experience. That simple fact means that you aren't a victim, you are a survivor. You have faced some of the worst life has to give, some of the evilest actions of human kind, and you have survived. You not only simply lived to take another breathe but you have decided to not let life beat you. You have decided to not let the heinous actions of an evil person condemn you to a life of self blame. By the mere fact that you are in a forum of this type shows your strength, and shows that you are not only a survivor but a person who wants to be a thrivor. You want something better for yourself. You want to put your pain, your heartache, and the memory of those people's evil actions behind you. That makes you a far stronger person then you think you are. It also makes you a much stronger and better person then your assailant. The desire you have to not only survive your assault, emotional pain, and painful memory makes you a strong person. I know it’s often hard to see that strength through the tears in your eyes and often difficult to breath because your heart feels like it’s broke in two, but with hard work, openness, and willingness to take another breath, to live another day, you will thrive. Each day that passes you will learn how to better deal with your emotions, let go of the pain, and most of all let go of the painful memory. If I can give any advice to a fellow survivor it would be to hold your head up a little higher then you feel like you can. Look in the mirror and see the better person you are, instead of the person you feel inside. Above all else realize that although life can't be rewound and relived with a different story line, each day offers a new sheet of paper and a fresh pen so that you can write the story to your own design. Being a survivor and a thrivor in life isn't about forgetting the past, it's about moving beyond the past. Nothing we do, say, or think about will ever change the past. However, everything we do, say, and think about has the potential to guide our future. Let's guide our future to a happier, safer, and more content existence. It won't be easy, and there will be days that you want to give up. Please don't give up, fight, and show the world that you are a survivor and a thrivor. I don't think I was able to get my point across the way it sounded in my head. I apologize for that.