Survivor Love Letters

The Project:

Survivor Love Letters is a project that hopes to provide support for survivors of gender-based violence through submissions from the K community. Through this creative collection, we hope to build a community for those who seek positive affirmations.   

As a victim-survivor, we understand the difficulties you may face. This collection aims to spread the message to you as a survivor that  not only are you believed, not only are you supported, but you are loved.  

All submissions are anonymous.

For more information, please contact Haley Mangette, haley.mangette@kzoo.edu

Dear Friend,

Your friend

Maya Angelou once said that, “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” I do not know you but I love you. I wish you and those that you hold close to your heart to be safe during these times. I have no idea what you are going through but I hope that this letter is able to make your day at least a morsel better. You have come to far to give up now sis. Keep fighting! 

Dear Survivor,

A friend

I want to start by saying that I believe you and I am so sorry that someone hurt you. No one deserves to be hurt so intimately. The anguish, anger, numbness, or literally any other emotion you are feeling right now is valid and you have the right to express all of it, or none of it at all. Processing something that was deeply hurtful can take some time and it is so important to let yourself take all the time you need to heal and just do whatever feels right. If you need to scream at the top of your lungs, do it. If you need to listen to music for hours in the dark, do it. All that matters right now is taking care of yourself and prioritizing your well-being. Finding a way to regain that feeling of control over your life and body can really help the healing process. The process isn’t going to be linear and that’s okay. Just know that there are resources and people who want to help you through this and you are, and never will be, alone in this. This pain may be one of the worst things to happen to you but I promise that you will not feel like this forever and you can make it through. Again, I am so sorry that this happened. You deserve all of the love, happiness, and peace. 

With love and understanding,

A Friend

Dear Beautiful Person,

I may not know you but I care about you and I encourage you to breathe– it helps me re-center and I hope it will help you as well even if it is just for a moment, you deserve peace four seconds in 1 2 3 4 seven seconds hold 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 and exhale for eight 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 sometimes I like to speak to myself in the mirror tell the person looking back that they are loved cared for important please remember you are just the same: brave, beautiful important loved strong intelligent and more than enough. 

Dear Survivor,

K Faculty Member

We are more than what has happened to us. We are more than a sum of our experiences. All of the moments have left their mark on us, the good and the bad. I spend too much time on the negative ones and through my decades I have learned it isn’t helpful. I am still hurt, and I will never be whole. I am changed. I now love people better than I did before. I care for those I’ve never met more deeply than before. I am no longer afraid. We can’t undo what has happened, nor would we know what we’ve learned, but we can allow ourselves to grow past it. We can allow ourselves to become more. We are the phoenix. We are reborn. 

Loving Ourselves

Dear Survivor,

You are not alone and you are so strong for having this kind of experience on top of everything else in your life. You are not any less whole because this happened and you still deserve every beautiful thing. You are loved and that will never change.

Dear Survivor,

Your fellow survivor

I wish I could reach through time and space and give you the biggest hug right now and offer you all of my support. But since I can’t be with you physically, I hope my words can reach you spiritually and let you know that you are loved. I may or may not know you personally but regardless I love you. I love you and so many people here on this earth love you too. We love you so much. You are unbelievably worthy of love, deserving of love, and able to be loved. Please know that, hold that close to your heart. What happened to you is inexplicably horrible and no one, and I mean no one could ever deserve to be treated the way you were treated. But I hope you know that the way someone else treated you has absolutely nothing to do with who you are. That’s a reflection of their character, that’s on them. You are still that beautiful, amazing, wonderful human being that you have always been. You are an inspiration. I mean look at you, look at how far you have come, look at how you kept on going. You are still here existing and that speaks volumes. The strength and courage you hold, your resilience, its incredible. You are incredible. I don’t know where you are at in your healing process, but I want you to know that wherever you are, just existing is enough to make me admirable you. If you’re having a bad day or a good one, I hope you know that you have so many days ahead of you. So many experiences ahead of you. You are going to laugh until you cry one day, and cry until you laugh another. You are going to meet new people and see new places and try new things. You are going to love and be loved. Just your existence alone is going to touch hearts and change lives. So just keep existing as the strong, courageous, beautiful, inspiring, lovable person you are. I love you. Love , your fellow survivor

Dear Survivor,

What happened to you is not your fault. You are beautiful! 

Queridx Survivor,

I’m sorry this has happened to you, but I want to share some thoughts with you that I hope might help to lessen the load. I want you to know that you are not alone. Many of the women you look up to have also suffered sexual assault or harassment. What I mean is, this doesn’t have to ruin your life or limit your ability to achieve your goals. Even though it hurts and is so difficult to deal with in the aftermath, you have survived and your life will continue. This experience doesn’t define you. In ten years, you will look back on this with sadness and anger, but you will also have found some kind of peace with it for yourself and your life will be full of other things, other worries as well as joys. It’s easy to forget that when you are caught in the middle of the storm that follows upon an assault. But trust that it’s true. You are more than this situation. Know that you are valuable beyond measure.

If people in your family or community don’t believe you or support you, it is OK to take some time and space away from them to heal yourself. Trust your own feelings; they are there to guide you. Like the great Audre Lorde said, “I feel, therefore I can be free!” If you need to grieve or feel angry for a while, please allow yourself to do that. You do not need to explain anything to anyone. ¡Y si tienes que mandar a todo el mundo al carajo, pues hazlo! Take the time and space to regenerate the parts of you that were wounded and maimed by these experiences. Understand that you are not responsible for what happened to you, no matter how perra your outfit was, how drunk or high you were, or how much you flirted.

You have the right to decide what happens with your body, your mind, y tu corazón. No one can tell you what is right for you, but there are people out there who can help you understand what you are going through. If you reach out and the first person doesn’t give you the care you need, try a different person. Eventually, you will find someone who can hear you and hold you, affirm you and respect you. But the hardest part is letting that happen by listening to and respecting yourself and your own thoughts and feelings. Please be kind to yourself. Please treat yourself as you would someone you love who was going through this same thing.

Remember, this will not be the defining event or aspect of your life. You will keep growing and flowering. Many of us have survived sexual assault and rape and gone on to have happy lives full of meaningful work and companionship. You are not lost. ¡Tu puedes! I embrace you. ¡Te abrazo!

Send yourself some love,

Laurie

Dear, dear, beloved survivor, My therapist introduced me to a healing technique that has helped me so much to get over painful experiences in my past that I want to share it with you. She said that the person we were at any time during our lifetimes still exists within us, like a hologram. We can instantly access ourselves at any age or any moment in our lives, simply by imagining ourselves at that time and, in our hearts, conveying a message that that self needed to hear right then. She says our past selves have been waiting patiently to hear from us, and we can help them and heal them … and ourselves in turn. The first time I tried it, I imagined myself as a 4- or 5-year-old. I hugged her/hugged myself and said, “You are a good girl.” It made me cry and cry … but they were tears of relief and release. Now, any time I feel sad or anxious, I speak to my “Little Me,” tell her I love her, tell her she’s safe, tell her I’ve got her and won’t let anyone hurt her ever again. I have also thanked her, at all her ages, for taking care of herself so that I could arrive safe and healthy at my current elder age. I love you very much. I believe you and believe in you.