I hold you until the seed of your body blooms into a volcano. There will be days you will feel so alone & so split from any blood family & no amount of external achievement can overpower the empty. close your eyes. imagine a hummingbird soaring around each wound. Imagine it’s wings nourishing each wound until they glow. Call upon chosen family, survivors, therapy animals, mentors, ancestors, and their spirits will come flocking by the hundreds. Their spirits fold around your body & carry you down a river. At the end of the river, there is love. #SurvivorLoveLetter artwork by @layqanunayawar &  @jessxsnow

I hold you until the seed of your body blooms into a volcano. There will be days you will feel so alone & so split from any blood family & no amount of external achievement can overpower the empty. close your eyes. imagine a hummingbird soaring around each wound. Imagine it’s wings nourishing each wound until they glow. Call upon chosen family, survivors, therapy animals, mentors, ancestors, and their spirits will come flocking by the hundreds. Their spirits fold around your body & carry you down a river. At the end of the river, there is love. #SurvivorLoveLetter artwork by @layqanunayawar & @jessxsnow

Tani Ikeda
 I will always be with you, just as you will always be with me, until each memory is felt and released, until we are truly one. #survivorloveletter

I will always be with you, just as you will always be with me, until each memory is felt and released, until we are truly one. #survivorloveletter

Tani Ikeda
 Dear Survivor, 
You will walk through the fire, and you will know the truth of it. 
You may fall into a never-ending pit of darkness, not knowing when you will touch bottom, 
And when you finally do, you will stand there, feet firmly on the ground.  
At first, this darkness will be terrifying. It is grief, pain, shame, rage. It is all your demons and it feels like suffocation, 
And you will stand there in utter blackness, 
And you will breathe, 
And you will examine the shadow enveloping you 
And you will get to know it’s shape, it’s sound, And after a while, you will become less afraid of it.  
Because you’re still breathing.  
Few people have stood in that place and made friends with their shadow. 

 Sister Survivor, I am with you always. You are stronger than you can even fathom. So even in the darkest moments, just know that there will be a light that emanates from deep within your heart, and that light is called compassion.  You are a super-hero and I am proud to know you. #survivorloveletter artwork by  @jessxsnow

Dear Survivor,
You will walk through the fire, and you will know the truth of it.
You may fall into a never-ending pit of darkness, not knowing when you will touch bottom,
And when you finally do, you will stand there, feet firmly on the ground.
At first, this darkness will be terrifying. It is grief, pain, shame, rage. It is all your demons and it feels like suffocation,
And you will stand there in utter blackness,
And you will breathe,
And you will examine the shadow enveloping you
And you will get to know it’s shape, it’s sound, And after a while, you will become less afraid of it.
Because you’re still breathing.
Few people have stood in that place and made friends with their shadow.

Sister Survivor, I am with you always. You are stronger than you can even fathom. So even in the darkest moments, just know that there will be a light that emanates from deep within your heart, and that light is called compassion. You are a super-hero and I am proud to know you. #survivorloveletter artwork by @jessxsnow

Tani Ikeda
 you will never be perfect 
you will have to tell the truth  
you are learning to breathe 

 the bruise will fade, the scars will mute 
the grief will stay sharp, the night will pass 
you will love so many times 

 the miracle does not cease 
the wonder will never abandon you 
you will find a home in faith 

 you are young until you die 
you can forget how to lie 
you must be free

you will never be perfect
you will have to tell the truth
you are learning to breathe

the bruise will fade, the scars will mute
the grief will stay sharp, the night will pass
you will love so many times

the miracle does not cease
the wonder will never abandon you
you will find a home in faith

you are young until you die
you can forget how to lie
you must be free

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
 Dear little me, 

 I write this on the cusp of entering my forties, a new decade of life.  

 It has been thirty-six years since you sustained the first wounds, and twenty-four years since you began consciously healing.  

 Language often seems so inadequate to describe our connection, but if we cannot communicate our experience to others, how can we find connection with others?  

 So I will try.  

 I used to think the wounds of rape, torture and psychic violence defined you (me). I know you feel so other, so ugly, so alone, so different, and strange. I know you spend a lot of time wondering why you have been chosen to suffer.  

 I want you to know – you are not what is happening to you. Your father’s shame is not your own. You came into this world complete, whole, and perfect in your human imperfection. You get to leave this world with your soul intact. The shift from innocent to knowing is excruciating, but ultimately a gift.  

 Violence and isolation are locked in a cycle of cause and effect. When you learn to open your wounds, you will release a flow of comingled blood and tears that will lead you to your kindred. For the sad and gorgeous truth is you are so very normal. Your pain is the most banal thing about you.  

 Release it, and the trickle will flow together with the blood and tears of everyone around you, rivers that race to the ocean, our primordial home.   

 I promise you, the day will come that you learn survivors are, and always have been, all around you. Your classmates, your playmates, your parents, your ancestors, your oppressors, and one day, your lovers and friends and colleagues – literally everyone is or knows a survivor.  

 You spend so much of your time looking for portals as an escape – maybe that tree, that cave, that shell, that crack in the ceiling will open into another world.  

 I want you to understand – the true portals are your wounds. By going deeper into yourself, you will be able to connect emotionally and spiritually with everything that is alive and organic. The goal is not escape, but embodiment. Not dissociation, but connection.  

 Everything in nature is here to teach you, if you can learn to open to the lessons:  
the ocean is changed but not defined by an oil spill.  
the wind is changed but not defined by a nuclear explosion.  
the dog is changed but not defined by the fighting pit.  
Healing is not a destination, but a practice and an understanding. One day you will learn to wear your wounds instead of being led by them. Your spirit will expand far past the edges of your pain. You will understand suffering as a universal human experience, and power as the ability to feel joy and pleasure despite what you have endured.  

 Most of all, your wounds will disrupt the experience of time as linear. You and I will be able to use them to connect across time and space, because the body (and the psyche) truly does keep the score. I will visit you many times over, integrating each moment of fear, by holding your hand, rocking you, letting you weep in my arms – I will grow up to understand how to love you in all the ways you always needed and never received.  

 One day I will look at old photos of you: skinny brown girl with the big head and bigger glasses, teeth too large, knees too skinned, hair too scraggly, gender too mixed – and marvel that what once looked ugly and spoiled looks only precious and tender and beautiful.  

 I will always be with you, just as you will always be with me, until each memory is felt and released, until we are truly one.

Dear little me,

I write this on the cusp of entering my forties, a new decade of life.

It has been thirty-six years since you sustained the first wounds, and twenty-four years since you began consciously healing.

Language often seems so inadequate to describe our connection, but if we cannot communicate our experience to others, how can we find connection with others?

So I will try.

I used to think the wounds of rape, torture and psychic violence defined you (me). I know you feel so other, so ugly, so alone, so different, and strange. I know you spend a lot of time wondering why you have been chosen to suffer.

I want you to know – you are not what is happening to you. Your father’s shame is not your own. You came into this world complete, whole, and perfect in your human imperfection. You get to leave this world with your soul intact. The shift from innocent to knowing is excruciating, but ultimately a gift.

Violence and isolation are locked in a cycle of cause and effect. When you learn to open your wounds, you will release a flow of comingled blood and tears that will lead you to your kindred. For the sad and gorgeous truth is you are so very normal. Your pain is the most banal thing about you.

Release it, and the trickle will flow together with the blood and tears of everyone around you, rivers that race to the ocean, our primordial home.

I promise you, the day will come that you learn survivors are, and always have been, all around you. Your classmates, your playmates, your parents, your ancestors, your oppressors, and one day, your lovers and friends and colleagues – literally everyone is or knows a survivor.

You spend so much of your time looking for portals as an escape – maybe that tree, that cave, that shell, that crack in the ceiling will open into another world.

I want you to understand – the true portals are your wounds. By going deeper into yourself, you will be able to connect emotionally and spiritually with everything that is alive and organic. The goal is not escape, but embodiment. Not dissociation, but connection.

Everything in nature is here to teach you, if you can learn to open to the lessons:
the ocean is changed but not defined by an oil spill.
the wind is changed but not defined by a nuclear explosion.
the dog is changed but not defined by the fighting pit.
Healing is not a destination, but a practice and an understanding. One day you will learn to wear your wounds instead of being led by them. Your spirit will expand far past the edges of your pain. You will understand suffering as a universal human experience, and power as the ability to feel joy and pleasure despite what you have endured.

Most of all, your wounds will disrupt the experience of time as linear. You and I will be able to use them to connect across time and space, because the body (and the psyche) truly does keep the score. I will visit you many times over, integrating each moment of fear, by holding your hand, rocking you, letting you weep in my arms – I will grow up to understand how to love you in all the ways you always needed and never received.

One day I will look at old photos of you: skinny brown girl with the big head and bigger glasses, teeth too large, knees too skinned, hair too scraggly, gender too mixed – and marvel that what once looked ugly and spoiled looks only precious and tender and beautiful.

I will always be with you, just as you will always be with me, until each memory is felt and released, until we are truly one.

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
 You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free.

You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free. You are free.

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
 Dear Sister Survivor: You are the hero of your story, hermanx. You are the fire that lights the way forward. You are the staff that casts away the demons and the deniers. You are the water that heals the heridas of betrayal. You are the future, hermana, and I can’t wait for you to lead our pack towards a world with no more #metoos.

Dear Sister Survivor: You are the hero of your story, hermanx. You are the fire that lights the way forward. You are the staff that casts away the demons and the deniers. You are the water that heals the heridas of betrayal. You are the future, hermana, and I can’t wait for you to lead our pack towards a world with no more #metoos.

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
 Almita 
It was not your fault. That day you decided to skip school and left with your “friend” to her boyfriend’s house, you did not know another boy was going to be there. It was not your fault that the boy felt the right to kiss you, touch you, and penetrated you. You wanted to stop him, but everything happened so fast, your body was in shock, no one was there to help you. No one cared about you. Your friend just laughed at you. You went home that day and got in the shower without saying a word. You looked at your body, which did not seem to be yours anymore. You wanted to detach yourself from it. You scrubbed so hard, but that nasty feeling didn’t go away. You were only 13-years-old and your parents always told you to be a “good girl.” You became silent and kept your inner pain to yourself.  

 Almita, it hasn’t been an easy journey. Depression and anxiety have always been present. For so many years you thought no one will ever love you. For so many years, you allowed others to brake you over and over again. My lovely girl, it took a long time to shine again. Through this letter, I want to thank you for allowing me to live. Regardless of all the pain and times you felt alone. You continued to rise. Now you’re not only helping yourself, but others who have gone through similar experiences. Cheer up my beautiful Goddess. You have a great support system and you have so much love to share. You are part of a beautiful sisterhood, which has given you more strength. I love you Almita, keep on rising my beautiful child!  

 -Your 35-year-old self

Almita
It was not your fault. That day you decided to skip school and left with your “friend” to her boyfriend’s house, you did not know another boy was going to be there. It was not your fault that the boy felt the right to kiss you, touch you, and penetrated you. You wanted to stop him, but everything happened so fast, your body was in shock, no one was there to help you. No one cared about you. Your friend just laughed at you. You went home that day and got in the shower without saying a word. You looked at your body, which did not seem to be yours anymore. You wanted to detach yourself from it. You scrubbed so hard, but that nasty feeling didn’t go away. You were only 13-years-old and your parents always told you to be a “good girl.” You became silent and kept your inner pain to yourself.

Almita, it hasn’t been an easy journey. Depression and anxiety have always been present. For so many years you thought no one will ever love you. For so many years, you allowed others to brake you over and over again. My lovely girl, it took a long time to shine again. Through this letter, I want to thank you for allowing me to live. Regardless of all the pain and times you felt alone. You continued to rise. Now you’re not only helping yourself, but others who have gone through similar experiences. Cheer up my beautiful Goddess. You have a great support system and you have so much love to share. You are part of a beautiful sisterhood, which has given you more strength. I love you Almita, keep on rising my beautiful child!

-Your 35-year-old self

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
 Nikki, 

 These words are hard to write. There is so much to say, but I can’t find the words. Remember that you are worthy and deserving of the very best. The trauma and pain that continues to follow you does not mean you are weak. The tears you shed, the days you can’t get out of bed, all those feelings that make you tired, actually exhausted does not mean you are not deserving to be on earth or to breath the air you are a Goddess. You are love. The past doesn’t define you. It only makes you stronger. Nikki, I love you as you are. Stop putting yourself down and comparing yourself to others. You are where you are supposed to be. You are on the right path. You will ahve the desires of your heart soon!  

 I love you, 

 Nikki

Nikki,

These words are hard to write. There is so much to say, but I can’t find the words. Remember that you are worthy and deserving of the very best. The trauma and pain that continues to follow you does not mean you are weak. The tears you shed, the days you can’t get out of bed, all those feelings that make you tired, actually exhausted does not mean you are not deserving to be on earth or to breath the air you are a Goddess. You are love. The past doesn’t define you. It only makes you stronger. Nikki, I love you as you are. Stop putting yourself down and comparing yourself to others. You are where you are supposed to be. You are on the right path. You will ahve the desires of your heart soon!

I love you,

Nikki

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
 Dear 16-Year-Old Jollene, 

 You are smart and a lot of people love you–follow your gut. It will lead you out and to a life of resistance, sisterhood, community, of books, travel, organizing, loud laughs and amazing victories you won’t even believe. You will love again. The bruises will heal. The few that don’t– The bruises no one can–see– will serve as fuel for the life you will grow up to lead. You will love again. You don’t have to feel shame anymore. Soon he won’t be able to touch you because you will sum up the strength inside you to fight back then leave. You will grow up to do amazing things. I promise you. You will love again.  

 Love, 35-Year-Old Jollene 

 Dear 35-Year-Old Jollene 

 Hang in there, Mama. liberation is on her way and all that you’ve survived–the blows, the shoves, the shamings, the shape–have made you strong enough to usher in he new world you have been dreaming of for you and the baby. Marcelo will taste liberation because of you. He inherited the resilience you birthed. violence and your ability to survive it will no longer have to be a definition of your identity. everyone lives in safety, security, and actualization. collective care is just the minimum. poetry and song are everywhere. Marcelo still dances to his favorite freedom song and i think your future grandchild will know the song by heart soon enough. you did it. you loved again and again.  

 Love,  

 Future 60-Year-Old Jollene

Dear 16-Year-Old Jollene,

You are smart and a lot of people love you–follow your gut. It will lead you out and to a life of resistance, sisterhood, community, of books, travel, organizing, loud laughs and amazing victories you won’t even believe. You will love again. The bruises will heal. The few that don’t– The bruises no one can–see– will serve as fuel for the life you will grow up to lead. You will love again. You don’t have to feel shame anymore. Soon he won’t be able to touch you because you will sum up the strength inside you to fight back then leave. You will grow up to do amazing things. I promise you. You will love again.

Love, 35-Year-Old Jollene

Dear 35-Year-Old Jollene

Hang in there, Mama. liberation is on her way and all that you’ve survived–the blows, the shoves, the shamings, the shape–have made you strong enough to usher in he new world you have been dreaming of for you and the baby. Marcelo will taste liberation because of you. He inherited the resilience you birthed. violence and your ability to survive it will no longer have to be a definition of your identity. everyone lives in safety, security, and actualization. collective care is just the minimum. poetry and song are everywhere. Marcelo still dances to his favorite freedom song and i think your future grandchild will know the song by heart soon enough. you did it. you loved again and again.

Love,

Future 60-Year-Old Jollene

Tani Ikedasurvivorloveletter
 Our first LA #survivorloveletter workshop! Help us flood the internet with love for survivors this feb. 14th.

Our first LA #survivorloveletter workshop! Help us flood the internet with love for survivors this feb. 14th.

Tani Ikeda
 Join us this Valentines Day Feb 14th 9am PST on twitter and flood the internet with love for survivors of sexual assault using the hashtag #SurvivorLoveLetter.

Join us this Valentines Day Feb 14th 9am PST on twitter and flood the internet with love for survivors of sexual assault using the hashtag #SurvivorLoveLetter.

Tani Ikeda

Dear Survivor,
I’m with you….today and always. I know your fears. I know your pain. I know your doubts. I’ve felt the same misplaced shame. I’m walking the path you’re on. You’re not alone. I’m in front of you to guide, beside you to strengthen, and behind you in case you fall, as so many others have done for me. And, I am so, SO sorry for what you’ve endured. But, I want you to know it doesn’t have to be what endures. It doesn’t have to be what defines, confines, maligns, or resigns you to a life without joy. You are NOT what happened to you. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are enough. You ARE a survivor. And, you matter. Yes, YOU….you matter!!! You deserve healing. You deserve to get your voice back. You deserve to break the shackles of shame and silence and secrecy. You deserve FREEDOM! I want you to know I believe you and I believe IN you, too. None of this was your fault. And, NONE of this has to be your future. You are capable of not only surviving, you are capable of thriving. You are capable of living a life of beauty despite the brokenness and a life of peace despite the pieces. And, that is my hope for you….a mind full of beauty and a soul full of peace – and, hope….always HOPE! Deep, deep breaths, courageous friend. You can do this. You can do this hard thing. You can overcome….just as you have already overcome much to get to this point so far. And, one day, you can write a letter just like this – a LOVE letter to other survivors, yes….but also to the one survivor who has lived within you all along. Take care of that precious one and take care of you too!
Love (and Hope!) Always,
Your Sister in Survival,
Brittney

I am with you on this journey

Dear Survivor,

You don’t know me. We may not have a lot in common – maybe only one thing: We were raped. But I want you to know that I love you. I do not judge you. I do not pity you. I respect and admire and hurt for you. I understand your pain. But, I also know that you are stronger than you realize. You are an amazingly imperfect human being doing the best that you can to live your life. I love you so much that I want you to believe you can have a full life, an open life, a free life. You don’t have to do everything alone. You may be afraid to accept love and or you may not even be confident that you know what love is. But being brave is not being unafraid. Being brave is doing what needs to be done despite being afraid. And being brave can come in small steps, just like your healing. You are on a journey now, but you are not alone. I will be with you, loving you, believing and believing in you, and supporting you however you need it. We will make this journey together and it will be a beautiful up and down trip. I am grateful for you and love you infinitely and will not leave you.

Dear Survivor,

I wanted to tell you to remember you are not alone. I thought I was for almost 29 years. I was so afraid to speak my truths until this year. I want you to remember that you are valuable. That you did not do anything to deserve this. Your life matters. I want you to remember that no one can steal from you the value you hold. And whether you were a child, or a young woman, This is not your fault. You are not labeled by your abuse. It does not take away the significance you hold. You are not only a survivor but You are a warrior!!! You have come this far and Your light still shines brightly. You are not what happened to you. You are not the rape. You are not the sexual abuse. You are not less then a woman. You are a beautiful gift and No one can take that piece of you away. I stand with you. Be proud of yourself. And remember you deserve to be loved, cared for, and protected, You are a warrior. I will always support you. I believe You and I believe in You. You are loved as you are. I am sorry for the pain you have endured. I just want you to remember that no matter how difficult things have been that you are Loved, You Matter, and You are Worthy. Most of all, I will stand by your side always.

Love

RG