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How you feel about yourself

Lots of survivors tell us that experiencing sexual violence has affected how they feel about themselves. Here one survivor tells us more about how this impacted her, and how she came to the point of realising that the attack did not define her. Just like her, you did nothing wrong, and you are brilliant just like you are!

Fist image

Illustration credit: a survivor who got support from the Rosey Project

Dear You,

You are the negativity in my head, the nagging voice that

pops up when I don’t need it; the voice that tells me i’m not

good enough, smart enough, pretty enough. But you have

not won. You are the voice that tells me I’ll never be loved,

that I’ll never be touched, that this is the best it’s ever going

to be for me. But you have not won. You stripped me

naked, you stripped me back physically and mentally, you

left me exposed on the ground and laughed. But you have not won.

You forced your way in, I do not know you and yet you were

inside me. But you have not won. You made me scared to open

up and to love and to feel, to be truly vulnerable with a person,

enough to let them in, to know me, to understand me. But you

have not won. You made me worry in crowds and flashback

and dread going to sleep at night for fear of seeing you. But you

have not won. You infected me, you changed my insides and have

affected my future. But you have not won. You made me panic

and afraid and hate and push away, you’ve made me feel lonely

and frightened and outside of my own world. But you have not won.

You treated me like dirt and pushed off my body to get up off the ground.

But you have not won. I still see the good in the world,

I still see the sunshine break through the clouds and

feel the love from people in spite of you. I have been held and

hugged and cradled since you, I have been loved and adored

despite you. I have grown and found passion and love in ways I

could never imagine and that has nothing to do with you.

I have been back to the park without you and everything was

different; there was colour and people laughing, there were hundreds

of daises and birds singing, there were kids playing and a best

friend walking every therapeutic step with me but there was also

an absence of you. I could move my own body the way I wanted to

move it because my body is mine, not yours and for these reasons

and many more, you have not won.

You will never win because life goes on; patches of blue sky appear in

the greyest of clouds. Human beings are still inexplicably kind to

one another and out of all the bad in the world, good will always come

shining through. You are the one who will never know what it is to be loved,

or what friendship feels like or the sheer happiness in seeing a loved one

through a crowd of people, or passion for the thing you love to do, or hope.

The hope that one day there will be a world where women and children and

loved ones will not have to experience such hate from vermin like

you.

So for these reasons, you’ve not won, you’ve not taken control of my life,

because my life is exactly that…

… Mine.

Body Image

Survivors of trauma also report that how they feel about their bodies is affected. Commonly they feel that their bodies have betrayed them, or see them as an object of scorn, which results in a feeling of revulsion and dislike of the body. This can lead to believing that the body is defective, or body dysmorphic disorder. Here one survivor talks about how her experiences made her feel about her body.

One survivor of sexual violence wrote this

Why Can’t Big Be Beautiful?

Why can’t bubbly be beautiful? Why is it okay to have big boobs, a big bum, big hair, but not okay to have big everything else? People have such frightening opinions on fat, they are so influenced by the perfect idea of beauty that they can’t see that big can in fact be beautiful, that big is beautiful. Why the hell would you want to mould yourself to look like someone else? If you spend your whole life seeking someone else then you’ve wasted your life. Your life was not created for you to hate it, for you to constantly wish you were someone else, to look different, your individuality is the best part about you.

Why Can’t Big Be Beautiful?

Why should a person that is bigger than someone else be made to feel outside of society by being labelled plus size, by being referred to as big-boned, or by feeling they have to book two seats on airplane so as to not get looks and be judged? Beauty should not be categorised by those that judge someone for being large. Beauty can be big, beauty should be big and loud and in your face, beauty is so often big, so big should be celebrated and cherished not pushed down, stuck in the corner and laughed at. If people question your ability to be beautiful, sit on them. As stated by @lizzy.dances the dancer, “if i can do everything that anyone else can, why should I be in a different category.” Her big is beautiful, she moves in the same way that anyone else does, with grace and poise and love and passion for the art she is creating.

Why Can’t Big Be Beautiful?

Personally, I am of the attitude that food is there to be enjoyed and shared and made with love and eaten with people that can share conversation and passion across the table, content with full bellies and cheeks that hurt from laughing. But, I'm a big girl, so I should watch what I eat, I should count calories and have dressing on the side, I should take the fun out of food because I need to fit into the opinionated persons ideas of beauty. Well I say, give me that extra slice of cake and all of the dressing. Yes health is important, but being fatter by enjoying a well balanced diet is not unhealthy, starving yourself for fear of fitting in is arguably worse for your body. The point I’m trying to make here is people will question your life and that is okay, just be prepared to ignore their opinion as you are allowed to enjoy the experience of food.

Why Can’t Big Be Beautiful?

Enjoy food, don’t count everything you eat or be concerned over the opinions of those that do, eating is okay, big is okay, fat is okay because the truth of it is, it’s all natural and it does not make you unlovable or ugly or unworthy of human kindness. Your body is yours, why would you want it to be someone else. There will always be things about your body that you can see as beautiful, the big bits, the little bits, all of your body should be cherished. It’s not about what you look like it is about who you are, having a personality, some substance, something that drives you, matters. So again, Why Can’t Big Be Beautiful?

Well, I say it is!

beautiful body

Illustration credit: https://www.instagram.com/lettershoppe/

See also:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/about-self-esteem/

http://wellbeing-glasgow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Self-Esteem-03-15.pdf

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For more information, you can visit the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis website.

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