Dear Survivor… From John-Michael Lander

During Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, The Army of Survivors is publishing a series of open letters to athlete survivors. This is the third letter in the series.

Dear Hero,

You are heard and believed.

I wished someone had said those words to me when I was going through, understanding, and healing from the events that took so much from my soul and self-worth. I felt alone and thought no one would listen, believe, or help me.

We must listen to ourselves by acknowledging that the event was not our fault and has nothing to do with who we are. The false beliefs were adapted, adopted, interpreted, and downloaded strategies to assist us in an attempt to survive, comprehend, and understand the infringement someone else bestowed upon us. We are not those thoughts — we are much, much more. Underneath these negative ideals, our true selves are waiting to be heard and acknowledged. We must listen, hear, and believe ourselves.

You are amazing, heard, believed, and NEVER ALONE.

You are a HERO.

John-Michael Lander