While Valentine’s Day means flowers and chocolates for many, for others it can bring back haunting memories of sexual violence.
This year sexual assault survivors are sharing brave and powerful messages of self-love to publicly celebrate their lives, using the hashtag #SurvivorLoveLetter.
Tani Ikeda first started the hashtag in 2015, but decided to share the movement again ahead of Valentine’s Day.
“On a holiday that for many of us is an anniversary of violence I want to publicly celebrate rape survivors who go on living even after being treated by our perpetrators and society as less than human,” Ikeda wrote on Instagram, calling for others to share their stories.
She added: “When we live in a culture of violence, one of the most radical things we can do is love ourselves. That love is what will make it impossible to stop fighting for each other. Make it impossible to give up on ourselves.”
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said of the project: “The #SurvivorLoveLetter project makes a powerful, and important, rejection of victim-blaming.
“The victim-blaming culture of our society is a barrier to women being able to recover from the trauma of sexual violence – but this project is giving them a space and platform to express themselves. Taking part in this project could be an important step forward for many survivors.”