Middle Age, Sexual Assault Recovery, Telling My Story

When I was an Alien

Being sexually assaulted, abused and/or raped is life-altering for victims. We feel ripped away from our former selves and forced to wander a strange and unfamiliar path trying to hunt for pieces of who we once were and getting to know the strangers we have become.

All while trying to heal and feel safe again.

All while our traumatized brains and bodies continually become dysregulated by events and interactions in a world that moves forward at its usual fast pace.

Many of us lose friends and other relationships either because some people suddenly don’t feel safe to us — physically or emotionally — or because people simply don’t know how to navigate connections with us. Because we are now different.

Those who want survivors to be the same as they were Before and don’t have the ability to hold space for the “new us” with patience, safety and a sense of curiosity for who we’ve become tend not to make the cut as time goes by.

Our worlds become smaller. For a while.

I think this is a pretty typical experience. It was true for me nearly six years ago when I embarked on my healing journey after being violently sexually assaulted at the age of 51 by a homeless serial predator.

The aftermath of sexual assault is a super confusing time as we survivors try to process the enormity of the assault on our bodies, brains, physical health, mental health, social life, livelihoods, etc. We constantly sift through our feelings, thoughts and responses to both the trauma and to people and the world around us to figure out what’s “normal.”

Is this what it’s like for other survivors?

Am I weird?

Am I crazy?

Why am I having these thoughts?

Why do I feel the way I do?

I did online research – a little at first because I couldn’t tolerate much and then more and more as I healed a bit – to try to find the answers to my questions and to read about other women’s experiences. I read research articles, newspaper accounts, blogs and social-media accounts, books.

I was looking for a mirror. Someone who could reflect back my experiences and feelings to me. I was looking for the validation that a shared experience provides.

I found the voices of younger women – Millennials and Gen Z Survivors – who speak out boldly through social media, blogs and Substack. And they helped.

But I couldn’t find many women who were in middle age – especially above 50 and post-menopausal like me – when they experienced sexual violence. And I found very little research and statistics about sexual violence within the middle-age demographic in general. In fact, I actually found more about senior- and elder-abuse.

There are some specifics to the experience of being sexually assaulted at an older age that are just different than for younger women. They are not here yet. This age. This time of life. My generation. I ached to connect with other older women who would “get” my story.

There was a hole in my heart I couldn’t fill, despite the many connections I made.

As years went by, I began to think maybe I WAS an anomaly. I even started to feel like an Alien, stranded on a new planet and desperately searching for their people.

Was it actually possible that sexual assault actually didn’t happen much at all after a certain age?

But as I healed and found my voice and my assertiveness, I began to believe differently. I’ve concluded that I don’t “buy into” the lack of statistics and experiential voices as proving a scarcity of middle-aged survivors. There’s more to the story.

Sexual abuse of infants is known. Of children is known. Of teens and young adults is known. Of college-aged women is known. Of women in their 20s and 30s is known. And of seniors and the elderly: It’s known.

So why would middle-aged women not be targets as well?

I think for many reasons, which I will go into with my posts and in my forthcoming book, the middle-aged survivor demographic has been largely invisible.

So my role here is to be a mirror that doesn’t currently exist. And to build community for older women. So that we can develop a gathering of gray-haired Survivors to support one another, help to educate researchers and our communities/countries, and prevent the isolation that misinformation breeds.

So that we are seen.

Sexual assault is not about age. It happens across the lifespan.

And if it happened to you, you are not alone.

Please subscribe to this blog to continue following my healing journey. You can also follow me on social media at:

Instagram: @amiddleagedsurvivor
Facebook: @amiddledagedsurvivor
Substack: @amiddleagedsurvivor

Wishing you love, peace and sparks of joy wherever you are on your healing journey. It is my wish with all that I do and all that I write about for you to know that you are not alone.