Survivor Reflections & Expressions

Survivor Reflections & Expressions


Voice. Healing. Creativity.

Healing is complex and personal, and everyone finds their own ways to navigate it. Though healing is an individual experience, connection can be found through survivors' stories. Many survivors of sexual violence feel that expressing themselves can help them through the healing process. With words, drawings, paintings, and other mediums, survivors can reclaim their voices.

This is a place for survivors to share their story, or a portion of their story, and the complex emotions that come along with being a survivor. Your self-expression can be an outlet for pain, anger, sadness, hope, growth, or whatever your experience is. 

Submissions for 2023 Sexual Assault Awareness Month are now closed.

Submission Gallery

Thank you to everyone who submitted artwork and so bravely shared their expressions & reflections with us during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) 2023! 

Survivor Support and the Consortium on Gender-Based Violence are proud to be resources for the University of Arizona. One of our favorite parts of SAAM is watching the amount of love, support, and vulnerability survivors provide to one another as they heal individually and as a community. We hope this gallery can provide a space for that.

Lastly, We would like to acknowledge that many survivors may not be able to share their stories yet. We are here when you are ready. We believe you. We are proud of you.


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The content below contains stories and content related to sexual assault and dating violence.

illustration of a person with their mouth covered by two dark figures standing behind them

Submission by Amanda Saucedo (she/her)

You are no longer a part of my story.
I am taking back everything and reclaiming it to be mine.
Why were you allowed to have the control over me that you did, for all of these years?
No more.
It took me a while, but I realized that you were the anchor that I needed to let go.
Without you, I am free.
Free to live my own story, and experience the world through my own eyes.
The self-guilt that I carried for all of these years never belonged to me. 
The anxiety, shame, and darkness that consumed me never belonged to me.
From now on, no more energy will be spent on you. 
The attention that you craved won’t be given.
As I write this, I am turning the page,
To rewrite the story that you forced on me.
The true story that belongs to me.

Submission by an anonymous survivor (she/her)

“Healing takes time - it is never linear, predictable, or controllable. Healing can still have moments of pain as it is a long journey that has no map. We belong to a group no one should ever be part of, but there is strength in numbers and connection. Together, we will take back our memories and never give it the power it once had. One day that song, smell, or location won't hurt anymore. One day, a name will just be a name. One day, you will release a breath that feels different, yet familiar at the same time. Life is the longest thing that anyone will ever experience, and it is time to live for yourself once again.”

Submission by an anonymous survivor (she/her/hers)

“I was drunk and with my best friend. I was half passed out and she took advantage of me after I told her no. I was so drunk I didn’t realize what was happening until the following night after I sobered up. It was heartbreaking to be betrayed this way by someone I trusted so much. I blamed myself for trusting her and I still blame myself. I lost everything because of what she didn’t and she never even cared. To this day, I still haven’t been able to sleep through the night because I’m haunted by what she did to me.”

Submission by an anonymous survivor


illustration of a person crying

“I drew a lot during the hardest part of my recovery, and every time I attempted to draw myself or do a self portrait, it always ended up with me in these blue-purple colors and somehow crying. I feel like it's important to see, and reflected a lot of how I felt, and how I felt about myself, even if I wasn't consciously aware. “ 

Submission by Macy Alexander (She/Her)

Isn’t this what you wanted?
By V.Y.S.

Maybe it was the way your rough lips pushed against mine
Wait a minute...

Or the way your bite pried my own lips open to push your own tongue through
Is that the taste of blood?

Maybe it was the way your hands grasped my sore arms and pushed me down
I don’t want to lay down.

Or you telling me to take my clothes off
But I don’t want to.

Maybe it was the way both of my hands were trapped above my head...

... with just one your hands that made me realize
This is wrong.

Maybe it was the way you used your teeth against my skin that elicited a cry from me
It wasn’t from pleasure, but...

Or the way my legs were pried open and my clothes pulled off

Maybe it was the way your appendage invaded my own sacred space
Shouldn’t my dry lips convey what the bitten ones you left behind couldn’t?

But with every thrust and every touch
I felt nothing but pain.

Maybe it was the way that my body agreed with my mind
Please stop.

But as I lay there through the aftermath of it all,
Wait a minute...

I asked myself...
Isn’t this what you wanted?

Submission by Vanessa Silva (she/her)

“I didn’t realize it was sexual assault when it happened. I just knew it made me really uncomfortable and I didn’t want to see that person again. I never told anybody about it and felt really ashamed. Now I understand why it felt so bad and I want other people to know they aren’t alone.” 

Submission by an anonymous survivor 


“You will survive, you will thrive, you will move on with your life, and you are so so much stronger than anything that anyone has every told you… and it’s within you! One hug, consensual, from one to another. Bye.” 

Transcribed audio submission by anonymous survivor


“So, I came here… got roofied, I was raped. I told myself it was my fault for the longest time until I realized… it wasn’t. Just always know, It’s never your fault, it’s always theirs.”

Transcribed audio submission by anonymous survivor


“I lost my virginity when I was raped in my high school bathroom. He told me that he would kill me if I told anyone, so I told the whole school and he had to transfer schools. I never really realized that I was ever sexually assaulted until I came and worked with Survivor Advocacy. They’ve really opened my eyes to so much and I’m so grateful for the family that I have here. I’m so grateful for all that I’ve learned and for all of the support I have. You’ve got this. Stay strong. Be you.”

Transcribed audio submission by Mikey Shock (she/her)

“My ex-boyfriend was the one who sexually assaulted me. For a long time, I felt like I couldn’t say anything because we were dating and I felt like I deserved it. My body didn’t feel like it belonged to me anymore. I’m happy to say I am out of that relationship now and have learned that consent is ALWAYS important, even if you’ve consented to sex with that person in the past.”

Submission by Jenelle Velazquez (she/her)

We understand that sharing can be difficult and healing. Our team is here for you if you need support! Survivor Advocacy is part of University of Arizona's Survivor Support Services. Our program is a Campus Health initiative that provides survivors with confidential support through advocacy and counseling services. 

Learn more about Survivor Advocacy, or refer yourself for services:

Survivor Advocacy

To schedule an appointment with a counselor, call 520-621-3334 or book through PatientLink.

Survivor support Counseling Services

For education, research, and engagement, visit:

Consortium on Gender-Based Violence