In one small corner of the internet, a Tumblr blog is helping survivors of sexual assault to declare their love for themselves, in letters written to themselves.
Filmmaker and media activist Tani Ikeda launched Survivor Love Letter as a reminder that the trauma of sexual abuse doesn’t stop with the abuse, and a few words can go a long way towards healing.
Valentine’s Day may bring love and cuddles to many people around the world, but Ikeda started the #survivorloveletter blog on the day of love, because not everyone carries the same warm memories.
“For many of us, Valentine’s Day is an anniversary of violence,” Ikeda writes in the first post of the blog. “By telling our stories we seek to build knowledge and reflect on the ways we heal ourselves and our communities.”
The site is still small, but with each new letter its community is slowly growing. Every love letter is different. There are some written as poems, others scattered with drawings of hearts, and some typed in simple plain text. The site gives room for survivors to pen letters to themselves, or for family and friends to write to the people they know who have been hurt. Many of the love letters are from survivors writing to their younger selves.
“To myself at 3 years old, You didn’t know what was happening. You didn’t start it, He knew it was wrong. You didn’t know any better. Please remember this,” writes Mandy in a letter submitted to the site.
Ikeda’s own personal experiences have played a role in the site’s development and helped her to create her own survivor love letter.
“After surviving my rape I spent 10 more years surviving chronic depression and a perpetual feeling that I had to continue to fight for my life. This is my survivor love letter. Don’t give up on your own happiness,” Ikeda told Mic.