Letter to the editor

On Feb. 20, 2014, I was raped. Not by a stranger or some guy in the bushes, but by someone that I considered to be my best friend. It has been over two years, yet my rape is still something that defines every single decision that I make.

Yes, I have grown. Yes, I have become a survivor. But every minute, I feel one overwhelming sense.

I am tired.

I am tired of being ignored. I am tired of being told that people don’t care. My city, my country, my representatives. I am tired of these systems telling me and my brother and sister survivors that we do not matter.

I am ecstatic that survivors have a month of advocacy for issues close to our hearts. But this is a solemn month. It is 2016, and yet we will have to have mass demonstrations to secure even basic rights for us survivors.

I have spent two years adapting my own life to the painful reality of my trauma. I know many other survivors whose struggles keep them from completing everyday tasks. We have been forced to fend for ourselves.

So I write this today with a plea:

Bystanders, friends and family — it is your turn. We need your support, your love, your voice and your advocacy. Laws will never change if it is the survivor versus the world. It must be all of us standing together in the face of oppression.

It took 761 days for me to reach a place of healing and love. But the journey has not been easy or smooth. This month symbolizes the trials faced by victims and survivors. And it is our time to reach peace.

April is a month for survivors, and we graciously accept its beautiful, lush meaning and a chance for new life.

— Elizabeth Willenbrink