Dear Survivor,  You don’t know me. You won’t ever know me, but I am just like you in a a lot of ways and I want to tell you some lessons I have learned since my assault eight years ago. I understand where you have been and more importantly, the road that lies ahead. It will not be an easy one by any means. You will have good days and bad days, but you will learn to take the good with the bad. People will doubt you, judge you, blame you, and distrust you. You need to be the strongest person in your life. You need to love yourself above anything else. It sounds selfish, but I can’t tell you how beneficial it is if your support system is a party of one. Be brave. Be compassionate. Be passionate. Be kind. Be the love of your own life but take a chance on falling so deeply in love you feel like you’re going to drown. It is the most terrifying thing you will probably ever do and you might get hurt, but the most significant lesson you will learn from it, is that you have the ability to feel alive again. That, in and of itself, is a remarkable gift. You won’t trust easily. You will most likely doubt a lot of things the people in your life will tell you. You will ultimately learn that yes, you are beautiful. Yes, you are strong. Yes, you are brave. You will come to terms with the fact that someone else has put you first in their life. You are probably an overly independent person now and that’s okay. Eventually, however, it will also be okay to lean on someone else for a change. Look for signs in the most unexpected of places. Be smart, but trust your gut. It will know your limits. Pick up a hobby. Paint, sculpt, create, observe. It is one of the most cathartic experiences you will ever have. Learn to jump in with both feet, but test the waters when needed. You will come to know the difference. Do not, under any circumstance, allow anyone else to belittle what you went through. Your story may be different from someone else’s or it may be very similar, but it is just that: YOURS. Be your biggest fan and your greatest champion. Strive for things that are important to you. Be proud of yourself. Seek solace in your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because although you think they will, nobody will think less of you. Break out of your routine every now and then. Walk on the other side of the sidewalk to gain some new perspective. Allow people to be there for you. Nothing is more vital than surrounding yourself with light, love and joy.   This letter may look cramped together and a jumbled mess. Yes, I did that on purpose. It is a reminder that things aren’t always perfect. In fact, life is perfectly imperfect. There will be really tough times where you don’t know if you can go on, but I want you to do me a favor. Keep this letter within reach and when you feel one of those days creeping up on you, take this out and read it as a reminder that there is one more person in this world who sees you, hears you, and most importantly, believes you.  XO

Dear Survivor,

You don’t know me. You won’t ever know me, but I am just like you in a a lot of ways and I want to tell you some lessons I have learned since my assault eight years ago. I understand where you have been and more importantly, the road that lies ahead. It will not be an easy one by any means. You will have good days and bad days, but you will learn to take the good with the bad. People will doubt you, judge you, blame you, and distrust you. You need to be the strongest person in your life. You need to love yourself above anything else. It sounds selfish, but I can’t tell you how beneficial it is if your support system is a party of one. Be brave. Be compassionate. Be passionate. Be kind. Be the love of your own life but take a chance on falling so deeply in love you feel like you’re going to drown. It is the most terrifying thing you will probably ever do and you might get hurt, but the most significant lesson you will learn from it, is that you have the ability to feel alive again. That, in and of itself, is a remarkable gift. You won’t trust easily. You will most likely doubt a lot of things the people in your life will tell you. You will ultimately learn that yes, you are beautiful. Yes, you are strong. Yes, you are brave. You will come to terms with the fact that someone else has put you first in their life. You are probably an overly independent person now and that’s okay. Eventually, however, it will also be okay to lean on someone else for a change. Look for signs in the most unexpected of places. Be smart, but trust your gut. It will know your limits. Pick up a hobby. Paint, sculpt, create, observe. It is one of the most cathartic experiences you will ever have. Learn to jump in with both feet, but test the waters when needed. You will come to know the difference. Do not, under any circumstance, allow anyone else to belittle what you went through. Your story may be different from someone else’s or it may be very similar, but it is just that: YOURS. Be your biggest fan and your greatest champion. Strive for things that are important to you. Be proud of yourself. Seek solace in your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because although you think they will, nobody will think less of you. Break out of your routine every now and then. Walk on the other side of the sidewalk to gain some new perspective. Allow people to be there for you. Nothing is more vital than surrounding yourself with light, love and joy. 

This letter may look cramped together and a jumbled mess. Yes, I did that on purpose. It is a reminder that things aren’t always perfect. In fact, life is perfectly imperfect. There will be really tough times where you don’t know if you can go on, but I want you to do me a favor. Keep this letter within reach and when you feel one of those days creeping up on you, take this out and read it as a reminder that there is one more person in this world who sees you, hears you, and most importantly, believes you.

XO