“He did not take my body and my consent away from me. I still have that. I am still alive.”

Note: The following stories contain sometimes graphic descriptions of sexual assault, as well as mentions of self-harm and suicide.

The advice here is not meant to be a substitute for professional help. You can reach out to someone at the National Sexual Assault Hotline for free, 24/7 by calling 1-800-656-HOPE. You can also visit RAINN.org for more resources.

And, above all, we believe you.

"Your body is yours and it is beautiful, and it can feel like your own again. You did nothing wrong."

"Your body is yours and it is beautiful, and it can feel like your own again. You did nothing wrong."

"I am a survivor of sexual violence. It will soon be the 10-year anniversary of when I was raped at 17 by my then-boyfriend and his best friend. I am writing this as a form of healing because although I would love to sit and write to you about how I had a specific cure that made me feel better, or a 'lightbult' moment, I do not.

This is healing, and it is a long process. I am still not healed and I may never be. I have sought countless advice from therapists, meditation experts, doctors, blogs, and rape counselors. Unfortunately, what has worked for me is time. I will not forget what happened to me, but it is part of my life and I am learning to have a positive relationship with it. If I had to give anyone any advice, it would be that there is no normal way to heal, so give yourself a break. Your body is yours and it is beautiful, and it can feel like your own again. You did nothing wrong."

—Lizzie, 27

instagram.com

"I was sexually assaulted when I was 13 by one of my classmates who was also a good friend of mine. Ever since then, I haven't been comfortable with conversations about sex or anything related. I've managed to shut everyone out and I have become really uncomfortable with talking about myself, because this person has made me feel so disgusted with myself.

It's been six years but it still affects me every single day. It's near impossible for me to have any contact with anyone. I don't even like hugs from my friends or family. It's taken a toll on me, but more recently I've been learning to get past it so it doesn't tear me apart any more than it already has."

—Cameron

"I need the ability to take time away from typically 'romantic' things (hand holding, kissing, touching) if my PTSD is acting particularly nasty."

"I need the ability to take time away from typically 'romantic' things (hand holding, kissing, touching) if my PTSD is acting particularly nasty."

"I'm a queer trans guy. I was sexually abused and assaulted multiple times over the course of about three years. As a result, I have PTSD. I get nightmares, night terrors, I can't sleep, and it's hard to have a relationship. That being said, I've been with my girlfriend for almost a year. We were best friends before we started dating. She was the first person I opened up to about being abused. Her support has been a large part of my recovery.

As for romantic and sexual aspects of relationships, personally, I'm up-front about my past with potential partners. I let them know exactly what I need. I need a bigger focus on consent. I need to be able to take things more slowly than what my partner may be used to. I need the ability to take time away from typically 'romantic' things (hand holding, kissing, touching) if my PTSD is acting particularly nasty. Sometimes, I have to ask my girlfriend to not even say 'I love you' because that can trigger my flashbacks. Sometimes, I have to go away for a bit so I can have the space to be angry, and have control over that anger."

—Anonymous

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