THE IMPACT OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE ON PHYSICAL HEALTH. Day 15.

"I walked aimlessly last night trying to figure out what I was feeling and I couldn’t. My gut was in severe discomfort, unable to decide if I should be constipated or be experiencing diarrhea. I couldn’t calm the noise it kept making so I walked. The impact of sexual violence isn’t just about your mind or brain, your body feels it too. It makes no sense why we don’t take it seriously. It’s not just in your head, it’s in every organ of your body". ~ Personal Diary.

I wrote this on the 16th of November this year. I was experiencing serious stomach problems. My head felt full. Every time I had to do something, I had to search for motivation like I was mining for gold. I started writing about it hoping to share but then I paused when the words weren't flowing and to see if it'll get better. 24 days later and I still feel stuck. The only difference is, it's manifesting in different ways now. I feel real fear and I have difficulty remembering what I want to do or what I've done. I find myself saying negative words and thinking of situations that can't happen. There's also this nagging headache that rest can't fix. And sleeping leaves me feeling more exhausted. There's a lot more I can't even remember right now and some I'm not ready to share yet. Consequently, when I say abuse is like a fountain that flows and never dries up, I speak with much authority. There's an endless supply of things you never bargained for. Things you now have to care about.

There's the psychological aspect of sexual abuse and there's the physical aspect directly impacting your health. A history of sexual abuse leaves one predisposed to long-term health difficulties and chronic illnesses. There's a negative health outcome for survivors. I'm telling you sexual violence reduces one's quality of life and lifespan as well. The only thing we hold on to is our hope in God to preserve the life He gave us. One minute it's your stomach aching because you're experiencing anxiety, the next is your heart beating faster and with pain because of a flashback you had. When we're in danger, our bodies release hormones to help cope with the emergency. It may release cortisol to avoid the pain and increase our blood sugar to enable us to flee from danger. Unfortunately, we can get stuck with the symptoms when our body fails to understand we're no longer in danger. Even a one-time sexual abuse experience can cause such long-lasting health difficulties. I've had a plethora of health issues that started around the same time the abuse started. This is one of the many reasons I would kneel to plead with everyone to treat sexual violence like the pandemic it is. There's no resilience to be found there. Address it by its name, an offense. Stop treating it like something unavoidable, normal, and necessary for strength. There's no level of resilience capable of making you immune to the impact of sexual violence. No two survivors will indeed share the same experience, but all survivors are impacted by sexual violence. To some, it may be hypersexuality. The need to detach and feel in control through sex. A way to conquer the same thing that was wielded against you. To others, it's a chronic illness like HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis, physical pain in specific areas of their bodies that suffered the violence. To others, it may be fear, not of the present or the future but of the past. It may be difficult to differentiate the past from reality, living in anxiety not knowing if you'll experience the same violence again.

At the moment, I can't bring myself to talk about it. I wish there was a way to have others tap into my mind to see for themselves how bad it hurts. And the biggest factor that helps me relax, walking isn't a good option because the increasing dust is threatening to my lungs. I feel trapped. Physically, I can't afford to change a toxic environment, and mentally, my head is carrying too much. What I'm going to do is forget everything that's expected of me and do little things. I'm going to wake up, pray in the Spirit like I did tonight since real words fail me. I'll try to walk even if it's for a shorter time with my mask on, eat, breathe deliberately, and awkwardly call my loved ones just to hear their voice. I'm going to drink a lot more tea and sniff new books. I'm going to cry, and not rely on my strength.

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"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint".

Isaiah 40:31 NLT

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