April was exhausting.
April has always been exhausting. It was especially exhausting this year. April is full of last minute projects, papers, and preparing for final exams. This year had all of that. I’m finishing my first year of graduate school, and that has its own level of exhaustion. But in addition to all of that, this April was the first that I was truly aware of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
In April, social media became a trigger minefield. Throughout the past three years, I have become increasingly more involved in politics, activism, and social justice. Because of this, I now follow more activist accounts on Twitter and Instagram than I do my IRL friends. Most of the time, I love scrolling through my feed and seeing the inspiring work being done by social justice activists around the world. Last month, not so much.
“Top Ten Signs of Invisible Abuse.” “What You Can Do for a Sexual Assault Victim.” “Stand with Survivors.” “Statistics Regarding Rape and Sexual Assault on College Campuses.” The list goes on. Every time I got on social media, I got hit in the face by past experiences.
I’m quite conflicted about this. I am a huge advocate for talking about stigmatized experiences, especially sexual assault. The only way to end rape culture and sexualized violence is to start by talking about it. Bring it out of the shadowy corners of vague legislation and biased opinions that no one asked for. But, April was exhausting. I’m ready to go back to my regular social media feed. I’m ready to not have a simple scroll through Instagram end up in a minor panic attack. I’m ready for social media to become self care again.
I’m also ready for society to stop only paying attention to sexual assault in April. So many people’s lives are forever impacted by sexual assault, and yet, society continues to brush these under the rug, discredit survivors’ experiences, and actively oppose legislation that protects survivors. Society continues to defend and even praise individuals accused of sexual misconduct (RE: R. Kelly, Ryan Seacrest, Aziz Ansari, Bill Cosby…I could go on). Law enforcement continues to second guess reporters of sexual assault. This nation even elected to the presidency someone accused multiple times of sexual misconduct and assault.
April was exhausting. I’m not sure what to do about it yet, but something needs to be done. I think April will continue to be exhausting for a while. Maybe April was exhausting for you too. I think if we all took sexual assault seriously, April would be exhausting for everyone. Maybe then, something would change.