Sahrika Rosli shares the words of advice her 15 year old self needed to hear, after experiencing sexual harm.
Dear 15 year old Rika,
Hey Girl, it's Me. Or, You, I guess... Bet you didn't think we'd be around eight years in the future, did you? Well, turns out, you’re still here. Still going strong. You know that saying; “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger”? Well, turns out whoever said that was right.
I know that what has just happened to you is hard to get your head around. Right now you'll be blaming yourself. Feeling stupid for having that drink, wearing that outfit, sneaking out at night… but listen. It's not your fault. It never was.
You’ll be hurting. In a way that makes you feel so alone; in a way which you believe no one else could possibly understand; in a way which causes you to think you'd be better off dead. But that's not true. You have a thousand reasons to keep living, even if right now you can't even think of one.
Rika, I'm writing to offer you some important advice. And pay attention, because your whole future depends on what I'm about to tell you.
Right now I know you feel broken. Absolutely betrayed. You put your faith in humanity and now it feels like the whole world is against you. Your heart used to be full of innocence and hope, and now there is nothing there but a hatred for men… and a hatred of yourself.
But listen: Not everyone is the same. There is always good in the world.
Look hard and you will find a silver lining. Even if the silver lining doesn't present itself immediately, it'll come in time.
There is always a reason for everything. Believe me when I say it gets easier.
You'll still have your good days and your bad days. What has just happened will affect you in ways you couldn't imagine. It'll leave an emotional wound which will take a lot of hard work to heal, but when it does, don't be afraid to let people see your scar. It will become a beautiful, sacred part of you. It is the proof that you are a survivor. And it is because of this experience that you will help others who face what you have just gone through.
I know it seems easier to cover up the wound and pretend it isn't there, but you'll meet some awesome counselors when you're brave enough.
You can trust them. They're there to help you. Open up to them - you'll be glad you did.
So. The silver lining? Well, believe it or not, in a few years you're going to meet the man of your dreams. At first you will be cautious, because you're afraid of getting too close to someone in case you get hurt. But the second you allow yourself to let go of what has happened to you, he will teach you how to trust again, and you will be able to find the happiness you deserve. I don't want to give away too much, but you know your dream wedding? It will be everything you hoped it would be and more.
Your biggest challenge, and blessing, is that you are going to finally become a mother. Your little boy will brighten the world and teach you so much about yourself. He will fill all the empty places in your heart and you will raise him to know how a woman should be treated. He will help you heal.
And the best part of all; the reason for what has just happened to you, and why you are experiencing this hurt and betrayal and loneliness; is that you will go on to speak to literally thousands of other young people. You will share your story on an international scale. You will provide hope to those who are hurting.
Through your courage and strength you will become living proof that we are not defined by what has happened to us.
All you need to do is hold on. And have faith.
If you give up now like you've been contemplating, none of this amazing stuff will happen. Our legacy won't exist. And it is so, so worth it.
Hang in there, Rika. This is not the end; it's only the beginning. I promise.
Rika from the Future
Rika is a mother, an artist, a youth advocate, and a writer. She is also a survivor of abuse, and through public speaking, and her blog, The Knocked Up Stripper, she uses her life experience to help and support other young people going through hardship and mental distress. You can check out her Tedx talk on Youtube, titled 'Listening to our Youth | Sarikha Rosli,' or follow The Knocked Up Stripper on Facebook for updates or to get in touch.