My culture gives us very specific narratives of sexual violence — a short script, narrow roles, cardboard characters with tightly scripted lines that don't account for the diversity of reality. Any deviation from the imposed mold feels "fake." The way I figure, the more you hear the real stories that don't follow that short script, the easier it might be discard it altogether.
This is part four of a series of posts dedicated to breaking down components of resilience. The series is an elaboration on a post I made in 2015, continued now as part of the June 2016 Carnival of Aces on Resiliency. In part one of this series, I covered tenacity. In part [...]
Support networks are a crucial part of resilience, and may even perhaps be the most important factor. It's not hard to find evidence of the health impacts of isolation or the protective effects of having supportive community. Those with strong support networks are less likely to develop PTSD and among those who still do, good support is likely to significantly reduce symptom severity. In order to have a healthy support network, you need to be able to recognize what healthy relationships look like. If you can't recognize when a relationship is becoming unhealthy, you can't take steps to keep yourself safe. Discernment is the skill of perceiving, understanding, and exercising good judgment. A person with "discerning tastes" is someone who has strong preferences about aesthetic quality, like a gourmand. The psychological use of the term is much broader—it is more related to perception and decision-making in general.
Being non-binary makes things really hard. Almost all of the help for victims of sexual assault are gendered. The general mental health care professionals are fine with my asexuality at first — but as soon as I bring up what happened it becomes something to be cured.
This is part two of a series of posts dedicated to breaking down components of resilience. The series is an elaboration on a post I made in 2015, and is continued now as part of the June 2016 Carnival of Aces on Resiliency. In part one, I introduced the series [...]
Have you ever gone through a time where things just keep coming? Where you keep getting knocked down, over and over and over again, every time you try to stand back up and start over? That's me this past year. I don't really feel tenacious. I feel more like I'm under-leveled. And the only way to level up is just by grinding. Boring, frustrating grinding. Here's the thing that I think people are apt to misunderstand about tenacity: It's not about never falling, or about how long you stay on the ground after you fall. That doesn't matter. It's just about getting back up, and trying again.
The only reason they found out that I have hypothyroidism at all is because I decided to try some medication for PTSD, so they screened me for it. PTSD shares some of the same symptoms—poor memory and concentration, depression, and fatigue (from PTSD affecting the quality of sleep). Some of my other symptoms could have been explained by other factors, too. So I think it went undiagnosed for a long time.
My experiences have caused me to lose faith in the idea that people will come to understand and acknowledge my sexuality without an explicit statement that I am asexual. Even this statement rarely generates understanding or compassion from friends; usually I am met with confusion, discomfort, or even silent denial in the form of attempting to steer the conversation elsewhere.
College can be hard even when nothing traumatic happens to you – especially in a physical therapy doctorate program – but navigating hallways where you could pass your rapist at any moment is hard on another level. And on a small campus, where he’s popular and you’re not? It can feel like all you can do is brace yourself. Forget support systems or telling anyone his name.
Sometimes we visit violence upon ourselves, not just by intentionally harming ourselves or putting ourselves in dangerous situations, but by perverting things we enjoy or letting our mind run away with our feelings. It’s important to recognize the violence our own mind is playing out and address it, or else our mind wanders away.