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I Am Number Three

**Trigger Warning**

This blog post contains content about sexual assault and violence.

When I turned my calendar to April, 29 days ago, I knew I would have to address it. April 1st was a Wednesday, but I wasn’t ready to talk about it. So I found myself waiting until the end of the month to discuss an issue that is very important to me.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And it’s time I put in my two cents.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center states that the goal of SAAM is to “raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it.”

Statistics from Take Back the Night.org state that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men worldwide will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted every 107 seconds. In the time it takes you to watch one episode of Jeopardy [insert other half hour television show here], 12 people’s lives will be altered forever.

Black. White. Young. Old. Man. Woman. Married. Single. Sweatpants. Mini Skirt. Sneakers. Heels. Night. Day. Public. Private. Stranger. Friend. Drunk. Sober.

Stop.

What about…human?

68% of sexual assaults are never reported.

That means that 68% of those who have been hurt are still living in the darkness.

This blog post goes out those survivors:

To the one who is embarrassed, ashamed, and humiliated by the event…

To the one who feels defined by it…

You are more than what they did to you.

To the one who still jumps anytime someone touches their shoulder to grab their attention…

To the one who becomes nauseated at the thought of affection…

You will learn to feel comforted by an embrace again.

To the one who locks every door twice before going to bed…

To the one who fears sleep because of the nightmares they bring…

You cannot let fear stop you from living.

To the one who cannot think past what happened and is paralyzed by the memories…

To the one who shuts down and is triggered by a simple thought…

You are stronger than you realize.

Because every day you continue to get up. Every day you keep fighting. Every day you work hard to pull together the broken pieces and push through the hurt.

But promise me, you’ll remember that you have support. You do not have to fight this battle alone. There are people who care. People who want to help. Reach out.

You have within you, an incredible capacity for love. Do not forget that.

You are more than what happened.

You are more than an incident.

You are more than what they did to you.

You are strong.

You are brave.

And you are kind.

But more importantly, you are enough.

Need help?

Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

©2020 THE SMILE PROJECT