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The Gift of Being a Survivor

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May 16, 2018 | By SPHS CARE Center

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Amanda had shut away her feelings of confusion and hurt, and went on to build a successful and happy life for herself.  However, every so often something would remind her of the dark memory she held in her heart.  Amanda had been raped as a college student. 

Processing the rape that she suffered at the hands of someone she thought was her friend was a very difficult task.  She knew what happened was wrong, but she always assigned the responsibility to herself, questioning her own actions.  She never told anyone, afraid of the judgement she would see in their eyes, not realizing that the blame she laid upon herself was immeasurably worse.

 Amanda attended the health fair at the encouragement of a friend.  She wandered among the tables, all of them filled with takeaway information on everything from cancer screenings to vouchers for fresh produce.

 A woman behind one of those tables greeted her with a smile and asked if there was anything in particular she was looking for.  As they spent a few minutes discussing services that were available through the CARE Center STTARS Program, her chest began to feel tight, and she could feel the heat rise to her cheeks as a question welled up inside of her.  

 “What if it happened 40 years ago?” she burst out. 

 “It’s never too late for someone to receive counseling and support, and the services are at no cost,” replied the advocate, who handed her a brochure and pointed out the contact information on the front.  “All someone has to do is call this number.”

She took the brochure and tucked it in her purse, where it stayed.  After a week, Amanda summoned the courage to call.  She was assigned to a STTARS counselor who was understanding and supportive at their weekly appointments.  She was able to process things at her own pace, and soon began to understand that she was not at fault for what happened to her in college.  Slowly, she felt the weight of the shame begin to lift, and with it the sadness and anxiety that had lingered within her for far too long.  With time, she came to recognize her own strength and resilience, and now understands the gift of being a SURVIVOR.