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This post comes from an experience I had with the editor of the anthology dear sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence. Lisa Factora-Borchers worked for the Women’s Center at Miami and returned to campus last Thursday for an afternoon to spend time with folks interested in the issues surrounding sexual violence, perform a reading from the anthology, and sign books. I was struck by the sincerity and hope Lisa brought to an often depressing subject. As she explained how the book came about, inspired by a letter she wrote to someone who had just survived an assault, I thought how important it was to have others know about this book and hopefully the movement it can inspire. I decided to write my own #dearsister letter, and I hope you will join me on your own blog, or in a Facebook note, on your Tumblr, or even send to me so I can publish it here anonymously for you.

Writing this letter was difficult for me. It brought up strong emotions about things that have happened to me, and made me realize I need to protect myself when putting this out there. Much of my story is vague and that is purposeful. What is not vague is my support of those who work to end sexual violence, my own included. I hope you will join me in adding to this movement.

Dear Sister:

I want to tell you that I am here with you. That I hurt with you and breathe with you and hope with you. That there is light at the end of the tunnel. That when you learn to love yourself again, because you will, you will find you are able to love others again. That happiness is not a fairy tale. 

No one asks to be part of this sisterhood. But I will stand by your side as a survivor, but also as an ally. I will be your resource for other resources. I will be your shoulder to cry on and the arms to lift you up. I will rise with you against violence and sexism and racism and homophobia and the rest of hate in this world. 

One day, you will wake up, and there will be hope in your heart again. And until that day, my hope will be your buoy. Cling to me until you can rescue yourself and lift yourself from the waters of this despair. 

I want to tell you that it is okay to be angry. Both with yourself, the perpetrator, your friends who failed to protect you, your own confusion about what happened. Let that anger lift you up in a positive way to change. Not yourself, because remember, WHAT HAPPENED IS NOT YOUR FAULT, but the society that allowed your assault to happen. And remember that it is okay, to not be okay for awhile. 

Dear sister, keep breathing and know that there are people in this world who will send you the oxygen you need to keep on doing just that.