Sitting in the emergency room five years ago, waiting for a nurse to begin administering my rape kit, I couldn't have understood how being a sexual assault survivor was going to impact my future. Honestly, I couldn't think of much of anything at all. However, in the years since — and throughout my continuous, never-ending healing — it's now easy to see how being a sexual assault survivor has changed how I parent my son. While it's difficult (if not impossible) to find a "silver lining" in something as horrific as sexual assault, because there isn't "good" to be found, I've discovered a way to step back and realize that this horrible thing has changed me, and I've been able to transform that change into something positive. As a survivor, I've found a way to endure, grow, and become the mom my 2-year-old son needs.
Of course, that change is one I never wanted or hoped to experience. I wish, with every fiber of my being, that being a sexual assault survivor wasn't part of my life story. But wishing my past away is a fruitless endeavor, and one that doesn't change what happened to me or how it has impacted my life. Instead, for me, I've found I feel empowered when I face my past trauma and acknowledge the realities it's left me with, for better and for worse. I firmly believe it's not a survivor's job to make something horrific more comfortable to digest, or to give hope to anyone listening or reading. But I will be a mom and a sexual assault survivor for the rest of my life — I'll never be one more than I am the other. And these are just some of the ways it's changed my parenting forever.