For a very long time, I could not say the words “I was raped” out loud, or even admit them to myself. I just lived with “what happened to me” and what was continuing to happen to me and never told anyone. I just pretended that it didn’t affect me. I pushed it down, I tried to hide it, but trauma always finds a way out.
It manifested in different ways throughout the years, weird behaviors, suicidal thoughts, my sense of self worth got so eroded that I thought I was completely unlovable. I found myself in an abusive relationship, stuck, feeling so completely alone.
The only only thing I had that gave me hope, was dance.
Dance was a way for me to express everything inside of me without saying it out loud, my dance studio was a safe place - the only place I could go and be fully and completely myself. I eventually started therapy and began to process and say out loud the things that have happened to me. Healing has given me so much hope, so much courage, so much pride and so much excitement for what’s to come. I wanted to give that hope and healing to other survivors. I wanted to make sure no one ever had to feel as alone as I did in my darkest moments. I knew that what I could offer the world, was a dance class.
So I started my journey to turn my dance studio into a nonprofit to help other survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. All the events that I’ve put on have touched my heart so deeply, and offered me such healing. Being a safe place for people who need it most and sharing how powerful and healing dance and connecting with community can be - is an indescribable feeling. Each donation I’ve received and each encouraging word, each gift of time and energy from people who want to support survivors, is a powerful reminder that survivors are so loved, cared about, and not alone.
Creating these programs has given me purpose, and filled me with so much joy. I want every survivor I come across to feel supported, validated, cared for, and I want them to walk away knowing that they are so loved, and there is so much hope.
To all the survivors reading this story, I want you to know your story deserves to be heard. You are so worthy of love, you are not alone, and there is so much hope - you have a purpose, and once you connect to it, you have the power to change the world.
Thank you to Rebecca for sharing this story withus, and to the participants of the 2021 Strides for Survivors participants, whose registration fees help support our frees torytelling and self care workshops.
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Andcheck out Rebeccas studio here https://www.graciousdance.com, or follow her on facebook @Graciousdance.