Survivors’ Rights

I never have to explain my past to curious on-lookers
I always have the right to say “NO” and I never have to explain.
My friendships do not allow for emotional debt
My opinions, feelings, and needs are as valid as anyone’s
No one has the right to claim my experience or to own my actions
I am the only credible witness of who I am and what is best for me
I never have to act out of guilt
It is all right and appropriate to ask for and accept support
If I feel hurt then I am being hurt, regardless of anyone’s intentions
I’m responsible only for my own actions, never for the actions of others
I have the right to extricate myself from any situation at any time
I can end conversations whenever they becomes too painful
There is a time for me to disclose things at a pace which is right for me
I am my own greatest resource
I have a right to live without guilt and shame
I have a right not to be exploited by others for their personal or financial gain
I have a right to be loved and love again
Love for my fallen friends does not diminish my love for others now
I have a right to my own interpretation of the past
I have free will

(Teri Buford O’Shea was a frequent contributor to the jonestown report. Her other poem in this edition is Fiction of Presence. Her collection of poetry on the site is here.)