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What You Should Know About Survivors – From Survivors


Lotus seeks to improve safety, healing, and justice outcomes for survivors; we do this through a holistic approach to wellness. It’s important to understand that survivor identities, experiences, and perspectives are diverse. Healing from sexual violence is a nonlinear experience, and looks different for every survivor.

Describing Healing

“Survivor”: It’s a word that we use often at Lotus. More than a label or an identity, it describes an experience of healing.

We asked survivors how they describe healing. Celebratory words such as “empowering,” “freeing,” and “self-discovery” are reflected by words such as “survival,” “challenging,” and “denial.” At different times throughout ongoing process of healing, survivors might use different words to describe their experiences. Feelings and perspectives might change over time, too.

Survivors do not always share the same language to describe their experience(s) of sexual violence. People who have experienced sexual violence may or may not identify with the term “survivor” as they heal. The best way to be respectful is to ask for their preference.

Myth vs. Truth

We asked survivors what they wish people knew about their experience. In their responses, they dispelled common misconceptions about what it means to be a survivor. Here are a few myths that were addressed—and the truth.

Myth: Sexual abuse, assault, and/or harassment must involve physical force to be considered sexual violence.

Truth: Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact. It is any sexual situation where consent is not clearly and verbally expressed by all parties involved.
Sexual violence can include:
  • grooming, or manipulative behaviors that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim;
  • emotional manipulation involving sexual acts;
  • showing one’s naked body to others without consent;
  • watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission;

and more. To learn more about types of sexual violence, visit RAINN.org.

We usually experience fear when we sense we are in danger. When our brains alert our bodies to the presence of danger, our bodies respond automatically. There are three responses to fear, commonly known as fight, flight, or freeze. Short- and long-term symptoms of traumatic stress can manifest in many ways. Often, we don’t hear about the reaction of “freeze” as much as we hear about fight or flight, but it is a common response to fear. Freezing is not giving consent.

Myth: Only certain types of people are vulnerable sexual violence.

Truth: Sexual violence affects people of all genders, ages, races, religions, incomes, abilities, professions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Systemic and social inequalities can contribute to increased risk for specific groups.

Myth: Sexual violence is often falsely reported.

Truth: Sexual violence is no more likely to be falsely reported than any other crime. In fact, most instances of sexual violence are not reported at all. It’s important to know that each survivor defines justice differently; there are also many barriers to reporting, including fear of not being believed. When someone shares they are a survivor, they are bravely sharing a vulnerable part of themselves. Just because someone doesn’t share their story publicly does not mean their experience is insignificant; even telling a trusted loved one can be a difficult experience for some. Survivors have incredible strength!

Lotus aims to ensure every person who has experienced sexual violence is met with a path to the services and resources they need to heal and reclaim their lives. It takes courage to survive, seek help, and heal from violence. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and need help, you can contact Lotus at any time—you are not alone!

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