To the girl who has been sexually abused,

This is an open letter to you. The first thing I have to say is that I believe you, and I do not doubt your story. This was not your fault, beautiful girl.

It does not make a difference whether this abuse happened a minute ago or ten years ago. Your story and feelings are valid, and I want you to know that you deserve to be heard and that you are not alone in this. What you have gone through is nothing to be ashamed of. You are not the monster. You are a victim to a heinous crime.

No matter what happened, you are not to blame. You didn’t look “too provocative.” Your skin is not a welcome sign for perverted men. Your body is yours, no matter how much you drank, or what situation you were in. And if you were a child, it wasn’t because you did something wrong or because you were too scared to say no. You weren’t innately bad and you never deserved that suffering.

I’ve been sexually abused, and for years I blamed myself. I was ashamed, and I hid my story under the rug to protect people from the uncomfortableness of my pain. But my inner fire grew hungrier and hungrier for the justice we seek, and even though I still struggle to share my story, and feel overwhelmed with guilt and shame, I know that my story deserves to be heard.

Beautiful girl, our stories deserve to be heard.

You deserve to be believed. You deserve the help you need to work through this trauma. You were not abused because you asked for it, and you were not abused because you were bad. You were abused because a monstrous person hurt you.

I know it can be hard when you hear stories about rape survivors, and sometimes it makes you feel like your story isn’t enough, that you weren’t “hurt that bad,” or that you aren’t brave enough to share your story. Your simple wish is to fall asleep at night without feeling the shadows of the past pressing you deeper and deeper into your bed. I want you to know your story does not need to be exposed and screamed out globally for you to be heard and valid. Working towards little goals, getting therapy and just reaching out to someone you trust, are some of the bravest and most courageous steps you can take.

You don’t need to be a warrior. Some days you will lay in bed wishing you never existed, and you may feel like everything but a survivor. But beautiful girl, listen to me. You are worth it. You are more than a victim. Your abuser has stolen enough from you, don’t let them take your light too. You can get through this, take it one breath at a time and know that no matter what you hear, it was NEVER your fault.

I believe in you even if nobody else does.