April-National Sexual Assault Awareness Month


farm-john campbell school,brasstown NC

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

My own mental clock had almost ran through the month of April. Until yesterday I had not been paying too much attention to the calender and then realized it was almost the end of the month.

Being a survivor of rape and sexual assault is an isolated place to live.
No one but another survivor can understand the meaning of what I am saying.

As people we are all different. We have different backgrounds and up bringing and some of us come from families who are rich and others from families that struggle to live month by month. Sexual abuse has no regions nor age groups-nor does it separate from where you come from. It does not have a gender….it has to do with control. The control of someone over you.

Every one of us has an extraordinary life. There are none of us alike-we only have similar experiences,yet those vary.
I lived a life that I know has been different.

Actually-it is a bit ironic that I can’t exactly tell you what it has been like being a survivor. I never felt like a survivor.
I lived a life closeted away from what others knew. In private I carried the guilt and shame that came along with the assaults. Due to the nature what was taking place….I was a young sailor in the USN and by twists of fate I got stuck in a snow storm and became AWOL. I ended up in a detention barracks-barracks D.
The long of the story is written in all these inserts-but the long of the story is also that every day of my life I awake to the memory of what happened.
The guilt and shame are contrasted of that the rapes were not a part of what my father or mother ever knew-they only knew that I had gotten in trouble and was being kicked out of the Navy.

I kept my secret-and battled it. The damage of having to preform every day the way I was forced too back in barracks D had some kind of effect on me. After the discharge and after being free of the barracks-I found myself seeking to be treated the way I was back then. I found myself putting myself into situations that were certain to cause me harm. I called those times ‘damage control’,except-I damaged myself and had no control over it.

I was asked once about how it might be for another-how I feel and how they feel about being sexually assaulted.
I could’nt answer the question-each one of us had different experiences but for most of my life I never figured it happened to others in the way it happened to me.
I learned to understand how harmful it is no matter who-no matter what the scene was.
It is just difficult too explain-not knowing others might be having to go through the same fears I was. Fears of public places…public restrooms-or in crowds of people,such as at a game or a concert. Like standing in a room full of snakes.

I went through most of my adult life not knowing that April was an awareness month-it does cover sexual assault-and domestic abuse. It is rather odd these titles.
Yes,I guess-we have to call it something,but sexual has nothing to do with assault,being domestic has nothing to do with abuse.
The word sexual actually softens the reality….there is nothing sexual about having someone force themselves on you-as in my case,being socked in the face and laid out in a urine trough.
A very interesting thing. The physical part of it was over-but forever the mental part has distorted something inside of me.
The ‘sexual’ contact in my life since became a task-a job…like hard work. Something I had to do,I guess that is because it was something I was forced to do.
How can I explain that?

I can’t explain what it is for others. I only can imagine it must be the same thing.
Many things are disturbed inside of you when this happens.
I lost trust. I lost responsibilty. Soboriety. I could not keep a job. I became divided from my family.
I could not be close to someone.

The things I’ve been writing in this ‘Word Press’ about myself and my life are my way of bringing awareness. I don’t need a certain month to be set aside to do this….I need what seems a lifetime.
I did find things to keep me alive-to survive.
I learned to drive big trucks long distances-that to keep from having to work with others. Yet-I also learned to build high scaffolds,another place where no one is.
I raised two sons-good young men,as a single dad
Through my life things have been an evidence as to what had happened,but no one understood what it was or why I was the way I was. How do explain what through the years had become a calous on my own heart and chaos in my life….my own past to carry  alone in secret.

It was through Charlotte B.,at the VA who helped awaken a part of me and show me some things about what this was….the actions of PTSD.
Through the meetings with her I found the Survivors Art Exhibit…and that opened me up even more.
Also through the meetings with her I was forwarded to a Veterans Advocate to ‘validate’ my experience and hold the military accountable….this ‘advocate’ was so knee deep in bigotry that he re-opened the wound in a way that made me want to scream.
So-I bought this computer and began to learn how to use it and in this I found a way to speak.

My awareness message to anyone….men are victims too.
The title of ‘Sexual Assault Awareness Month’ needs to really truly tell the whole story.

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4 Responses to “April-National Sexual Assault Awareness Month”

  1. Charlotte Says:

    It has been an honor to be a part of your journey, Jay. You have brought much, much awareness to my life. Much more than you likely realize. I look forward to the art show and more of your writings…. C

  2. jayherron Says:

    That means so much to me-thank you.

  3. Austin Says:

    Assault has nothing to do with sex and domestic has nothing to do with violence. I really like how you said that.

    I consider myself a survivor the way the term is commonly used. I live day to day trying to make it out of the past. I suppose the word survivor means you somehow lived through something horrible then you have the task of finding some way to live with the knowledge that you’ve been hurt and still have a measure of happiness.

    I also like the way you explained being in public places is like standing in a room full of snakes. It is like that. You never know which one is going to strike and if that strike will be deadly. Will we react fast enough or over react because of past snake bites. I really like how you said that.

    Austin (been too long since I’ve been here my friend, too long. I’m a bit stronger than I was so you should see me around a bit more.)

  4. jayherron Says:

    Good to know you are doing better and becoming stronger,Austin.
    I know somehow that we know-what we know,how it is we know…
    and…we are survivors!

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