Warning: There is mention of sexual assault in this post.
In a recent meeting my team was asked, “Which aspect(s) of your identity do you explicitly bring to work? If you feel comfortable sharing, which aspect(s) do we not tend to see as often?” For the second part of the question I shared that I don’t really say that I’m a survivor of sexual assault, but that it plays a role in how I approach my role as a recruiter.
For a while I could share that I was a survivor of sexual assault and be okay. However, painful memories started to resurface and it became harder to talk about this part of my identity. It was easy to say a fact, but with time I couldn’t sit with the emotional toll that came with being a survivor.
When my current employer reached out to me for an internship opportunity I was just healing from my experience and during my internship I was so nervous to go back to campus. I didn’t share any of this with my recruiter, but she always demonstrated an understanding that there was more to my life than the role I was pursuing. At a time when I questioned the trust and loyalty of those around me it was reassuring that I didn’t have to worry about that from my recruiter. Maybe I read too much into it and I just had a fantastic recruiter, but she made a difference in my life that I will never forget.
I’m not going to give you some big secret on what I did to heal from my sexual assault experience. The reality is that I didn’t find comfort until last year, five years after my incident. In the years leading up to this I struggled with depression, anxiety, and even alcohol abuse. It wasn’t until I was sitting in the car one day that something inside me finally had the courage to let go and forgive the person who hurt me. I also found the compassion to forgive myself. I think that was the hardest part and, truthfully, I’m still working through it.
I think of these moments when I work with my candidates because I know there is more to their story than what I hear throughout the recruiting process. As my work piles on and the deadlines approach I remind myself to be patient, kind and empathetic. If I can prioritize these 3 traits I know that I can be for my candidates what my recruiter was to me – an advocate.
This sexual assault awareness month (but really anytime of the year) I invite you to learn about consent and familiarize yourself with some resources to share with folks that may be looking for support.