In a recent interview with Ellen DeGeneres, mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey revealed that she contemplated suicide after her loss. She went on to say how upset she was with herself for not being able to do the one thing she felt she was born to do.
After spending a lot of time battling her feelings, she realized that this loss does not mean anything; she is still undefeated. Her explanation of this idea is something I will forever hold on to.
Being defeated is a choice. It is a feeling.
Losing one match does not mean you are defeated.
The day I saw that interview of hers was the day I decided to never lose my inner strength, never lose my drive, and never give in to being a victim – even after being raped. I have come to see that being a victim is also a choice. And I refuse to be thought of as another statistic, as another victim of sexual assault.
The purpose of this article is not to gain sympathy or to get a million calls from people giving their condolences; I actually don’t want that at all.
I want this to be shared and talked about. Rape culture is something that needs to be talked about, but seems to get pushed under the rug until some big media story comes out. Sometimes, knowing you are not alone is really all it takes to start feeling better.
All I want is to help – even if it’s just one survivor, because THAT is what we are.
I refuse to be a victim, and here’s why.
1. They’ve done enough.
They’ve already taken my serenity and my sense of security.
I am now someone who gets intense, random panic attacks. My anxiety has skyrocketed. I can’t even walk a block to my car at night without thinking up the worst case scenario and getting scared. Anxiety often has no validation; it sneaks up on you at the worst possible time, for seemingly no reason.
BUT, I am also someone on high alert. I have a newfound view on being protective of those that I love and those that I don’t even know. I am able to be aware of my surroundings on a girls’ night out; I am willing, and eager, to help a woman out of a situation that is spiraling out of control. I will be the first to walk up to a girl and ask if that stalkerish man is bothering her and if she’d like to go for a walk.
2. It’s my life.
Although I can’t control every situation that happens to me, I can control how I handle it. One positive thought can turn around your entire day. I choose to be happy. I choose to be strong. Sure, I have some hard days, but don’t we all? Life, in all its glory, is about making it through – finding ways to fight the heartaches and the anxiety and just be happy.
This traumatic experience has made me so much stronger. It has made me much smarter. It has given a new appreciation for happiness and health.
3. I have no time to feel sorry for myself.
This past year has somehow been the worst and best year of my life. I have found the true meaning of friendship, I have started appreciating people for who they are and what our relationship means to me, I graduated college, I started a career, and I have been reunited with the love of my life. These are all incredibly rewarding, but also incredibly time – and energy – consuming events.
I have learned so much this year, and I refuse to let negativity get in my way because…
4. Being upset won’t do a damn thing.
It will only make it worse. Being sad will only make my loved ones heartbroken. Being angry will only make me bitter. Being scared will only make me miss out on so many amazing opportunities. It is obviously impossible not to feel any of these things after such an incident; but we can, instead, turn all of that negativity into drive. Use it to fuel yourself, start advocating, start reaching out, start appreciating the little things.
Never be afraid to get help and let it all out. It’s amazing what a therapist and a comfy chair can do.
5. It is not my fault.
It took a really long time for me to realize that. Even now, over a year later, I still have to stop and take the time to remind myself. You cannot be ashamed of something that is not your fault. I don’t care how drunk you were, I don’t care how scandalous your outfit was, I don’t care how flirty you were earlier in the night: you were not asking for it, you did not deserve it, and you most certainly are not at fault. No means no and the only valid form of consent is a sober, coherent yes.
We have made it this far, our strength and courage have been tested time and time again. Our calmness and trust have been knocked down more times than we can count.
But we are still here.
I pray for each and every survivor out there, as well as their loved ones; it’s a tough time for us all. Find your support system and NEVER let go.