Hello! Welcome to the Survivor's (and Protector's*) Mark Tumblr.

My name is Sandy, and I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor. The Survivor's Mark is a tattoo I came up with one night in a moment of clarity and inspiration after somewhat of a breakdown brought on by a trigger. (You can read all about that night via the "Sandy's Story" link in the header.) My Mark means, "Abuse is bullshit, and I am not afraid to talk about it or hear someone else talk about it.”

The morning after the meltdown I called my Mom and told her all about my idea, and she loved it so much she got a Mark of her own. We were tattooed together on April 27, 2008. Now we use the Mark, and the perspective behind it, to try to change the world. That's what this page is for. It's a place for survivors to share their stories (plus Mark pictures, fan art, helpful links, and inspirational quotes and images.) It's a place for hope and love and joy and comfort and facing fears and taking back what was stolen from you. It's a place for healing.

My message is this:
No one has to stay a victim.
We can all be Survivors.
Abuse doesn't have to be a death sentence.
It doesn't have to control your life.
You can live happily after abuse.
I know, because I do it every day now.

To anyone who is struggling to believe they are a survivor: Just keep swimming! I understand. I know it's hard, but it's worth it. And you are not alone. Not EVER.

If you're reading this thinking, "Wow, I wish I could be like that!" or "What can I do to help victims/Survivors?" Submit your story. If you think about it, that's all I ever really did. (Feel free to submit anonymously or openly, that's completely up to you, but please specify which you'd like. If no discernible choice is made, your name will not be posted.)

*The Protector's Mark was dreamed up by Mom and I and Sam, our tattoo artist, while we were getting inked. The PM was originally to be white, but we all decided it was too pale so Sam, the genius he is, made it the colors of the sun. The light to fight the darkness.

The Survivor's Mark is for those who have been abused, the Protector's Mark is for the people who love Survivors and stand with them in solidarity, fighting against abuse of all kinds. Some wear the SM, some wear the PM, some wear both. You can see all the pictures I have received of Marks via my tattoos tag, but please be warned the stories attached to some of the images might be triggering, and there are some images there that aren't Marks at all. You can also see them in the photo album on the SM Facebook.

Annie’s Mark.

Annie’s Mark.

10 Ways To Talk To Your Kids About Sexual Abuse

The poison leaves bit by bit, not all at once. Be patient. You are healing.
Yasmin Mogahed (via tea-storm)

(Source: beautifulsabr)

My mother once told me that trauma is like Lord of the Rings. You go through this crazy, life-altering thing that almost kills you (like say having to drop the one ring into Mount Doom), and that thing by definition cannot possibly be understood by someone who hasn’t gone through it. They can sympathize sure, but they’ll never really know, and more than likely they’ll expect you to move on from the thing fairly quickly. And they can’t be blamed, people are just like that, but that’s not how it works.

Some lucky people are like Sam. They can go straight home, get married, have a whole bunch of curly headed Hobbit babies and pick up their gardening right where they left off, content to forget the whole thing and live out their days in peace. Lots of people however, are like Frodo, and they don’t come home the same person they were when they left, and everything is more horrible and more hard then it ever was before. The old wounds sting and the ghost of the weight of the one ring still weighs heavy on their minds, and they don’t fit in at home anymore, so they get on boats go sailing away to the Undying West to look for the sort of peace that can only come from within. Frodos can’t cope, and most of us are Frodos when we start out.

But if we move past the urge to hide or lash out, my mother always told me, we can become Pippin and Merry. They never ignored what had happened to them, but they were malleable and receptive to change. They became civic leaders and great storytellers; they we able to turn all that fear and anger and grief into narratives that others could delight in and learn from, and they used the skills they had learned in battle to protect their homeland. They were fortified by what had happened to them, they wore it like armor and used it to their advantage.

It is our trauma that turns us into guardians, my mother told me, it is suffering that strengthens our skin and softens our hearts, and if we learn to live with the ghosts of what had been done to us, we just may be able to save others from the same fate.

S.T.Gibson  (via modernhepburn)

(Source: sarahtaylorgibson)

Recovery is a conscious choice. It’s not something brought about by repeat hospital visits and pills and forced therapy sessions. Those things only supplement it. But what recovery really is is a conscious choice to wake up tomorrow and want to live. It’s a choice to drive across a bridge and not want to jump into the water, but to admire the view.
Megan on choosing recovery (via expresswithsilence)

(Source: angryasianfeminist)

Alyssa’s Mark.

Alyssa’s Mark.

Does it get better? I'm 19 and was abused almost 10 yrs ago but I'm still trying to come to terms with my abuse. I do see that I have made progress but I feel like I'm not making it fast enough. It doesn't help that I was abused by a cousin whom I still see along with others on that side of the family. How can I get past this if I'm reminded of what happened every time I see "him" or the rest of that family?
Asked by Anonymous

It absolutely gets better. That’s the entire point of me going public with my tattoo, and my truth. I feel it completely necessary to let others know that their lives can still be filled with love and joy after abuse.

Have you told anyone in your life your abuser’s secret? For me, that was the first step toward healing. If you’re not comfortable with that, I understand, but I always recommend it because telling my Mom set me free. And, it made it easy to say, “no thanks,” when invited to family gatherings.

I will forever be grateful that I was able to cut my abusers from my life. There’s only once in my entire adulthood I’ve had to be in the same room with my uncle, and that lasted mere minutes (because I saw him, turned, and left. Because my parents knew my story, it was never questioned. I’m blessed to have such understanding parents.)

As far as making progress “fast enough,” there’s no such thing.
All Survivor’s stories are different. Many are similar, yes, but each and every one of us are unique. Some Survivors can put their pasts behind them quickly and seemingly easily, some of us take more time and effort. Some never have triggers, some are plagued by them every day. Some can talk about their past openly, others hold their abuser’s secrets inside until the day they die. Your path is yours, and no one else’s. Don’t beat yourself up for not keeping up with someone else’s pace.

Memories will come and go. Even having not seen my uncle, grandfather, or ex-boyfriends in decades, new memories surface all the time. Just last night I was talking with my sister-in-law and recalled some pointless (in the bigger picture sense,) but validating, details of my abuse. The key, for me, is not dwelling on them, not allowing myself to relive the moment. I treat the recollections like waves. The surf comes in hard and fast, but only for an instant, and then it goes back out.

I’m not sure if any of this anecdotal advice will help you, but I wish you much hope and peace on your journey nonetheless.


He’d been bugging me all day to play the stupid game, and his constant nagging wore me down to the point where I said yes, at first I participated willingly but then didn't want to continue, and I was threatened with if you don’t do it I’ll tell your mom and rest of the family what you did. I was 10, he was 9, at what point does it turn from curiosity to sexual assault? I admit I did take part but still I doubt my memories, possibly making things up to cover the fact I participated? thoughts?
Asked by Anonymous

Coercion is not consent. If you have to be talked into, guilted into, or threatened into participating, that’s not true consent. The word “yes” does not a consensual encounter make, not when that “yes” came with strings attached.

I’m of the opinion that you were absolutely abused. I’m sorry that you have to hear that from an Internet stranger, but I hope knowing for sure will allow you to accept your past and move forward from it to a place of self-forgiveness and healing.

Much love and hope,

I'm a woman - I was an instigator, when I was, maybe, 5 or 6 - I feel disgusted and horrified thinking about it - am I a csa victim? or a rapist? he was 1.5 yrs younger. I hate myself. I can't get past this. I can't remember anything before it, I don't know what prompted it, or how I knew about sex. it seemed 'naughty' but not the awful, unforgivable thing it looks like now. I don't think he remembers. I've never told anyone. I've never hurt anyone since. I'm gay now. I'm so sorry. please answer
Asked by Anonymous

Did he protest, or was he eager and willing to explore his body, and yours? Were you forcing him to do things to/with you, or was he as curious as you were? Did you stop when he asked you to?

The answers to those question makes all the difference.

Age is not important, sex/gender is not important, what’s important is whether or not there was consent.

I “experimented” with my best friend/neighbor for what felt like ages before I was abused. She and I were curious about our bodies, so we started touching and kissing and doing thing we’d seen on TV (that we weren’t supposed to be watching.) This behavior is perfectly natural, especially when growing up in the sexually rigid part of Texas we were in. We did what felt good, we had fun, we learned a lot about ourselves…until we got caught, then reprimanded by our mothers (and eventually, for me, taught the most awful of lessons by my uncle rapist.)

If the answer to the above questions is yes, you probably need to sit down with a professional and search your past to learn why you felt the need to control another person—because at the end of the day, SA is about power and control, not sex or attraction.

If the answer is no, then no worries! Most people don’t even know that almost all children fondle themselves and others for the simple fun and wonder of it, at a very young age. I hate saying anything is “normal,” but exploring your body is probably one of the most natural, normal things I know or.

Hope this helps!

"If you’re a woman who’s ever been victimized by a man, please leave an * "--What about women who have been victimized by other women? Or men by men/women? Can we include these too?
Asked by Anonymous

That post in particular was a “survey” of sorts, to prove a point to a male “friend” of mine who said I was “blowing the statistics out of proportion.”

It was not my intent to discount any Survivor, all abuse is equal, no matter the sex/gender identity of the victim or abuser; this instance was merely to show him that I was absolutely not exaggerating when I said every woman I’ve ever known has been victimized by a man at least once in their life.



today my professor told me
every cell in our entire body
is destroyed and replaced
every seven years.

how comforting it is to know
one day i will have a body
you will have never touched.

Original Writing by Brett Elizabeth Jenkens


If you’re a woman who’s ever been victimized by a man, please leave an * in the comments of this post. One * if the man was a stranger, two *s if the man was someone you knew. You may choose to include the number of times you’ve been victimized as well.

Victimization, as I’m defining it, includes but is not limited to: r*pe, molestation, sexual assault; verbal, physical, or emotional abuse; catcalling/street harassment; stalking; cyberbullying

And, if you don’t mind, please post an & for the number of times you reported the crimes against you, and an X for the number of times your reports were completely dismissed by the school officials, police, bouncers, security officers, or other authority figures you sought help from.

ETA: My count looks like this —
* = more than I can count
** = ~ 10
& = ~20
X = ~20

(for the enabling of replies) ?

Feel free to send your answers in the form of Asks, since I can’t enable replies on a reblog. Whether you write in anonymously or on your account, your information will not be attached to your URL.


April&#8217;s Mark.

"This is my reminder of how far I have come and for all those unheard voices of children and survivors. I had this done today at Burnin&#8217; Hell Tattoos, by an awesome, friendly, talented artist called Kelly McKinnon. A genuine person interested in the meaning behind my mark. I feel so proud of this and something I will forever treasure, love to all survivors xx&#8221;

April’s Mark.

"This is my reminder of how far I have come and for all those unheard voices of children and survivors. I had this done today at Burnin’ Hell Tattoos, by an awesome, friendly, talented artist called Kelly McKinnon. A genuine person interested in the meaning behind my mark. I feel so proud of this and something I will forever treasure, love to all survivors xx”

I'm 21 & my doctor is making an appointment for my first pap smear whether I like it or not. I was sexually abused by a doctor when I was little. No one knows, & I don't want them to know because they would want to find him & I don't want that. I know my family wouldn't listen to me though. This is literally my greatest fear in the entire world. I don't trust my current doctor enough to talk to her about it. I feel so trapped. I don't know what to do. I'm terrified.
Asked by Anonymous

Your current doctor almost certainly won’t be able to tell you’ve been abused by a simple pelvic exam/pap smear; my first gynecologist had no idea until I told her—which I chose to do because she was amazing during the exam. You, however, can keep your past to yourself, you are not obligated to disclose your abuse to your doctor or anyone else.

Your exam should be painless, brief, and very beneficial to your reproductive health. It might trigger flashbacks, though, so try and mentally prepare for that. I was only 13 when I saw an OB/GYN for the first time, so I had no idea what to expect. For some reason I imagined some intimidating doctor poking and prodding me while I lay on a cold, metal slab in a dimly lit room. The reality couldn’t have been further from that. My doctor was warm, kind, compassionate, and above all, willing to explain every single thing she did. I suggest asking for your doctor to explain their every move as well.

If you do decide to tell her you were abused, you don’t have to say who it was, and you can rest assured that she can’t tell your family. Doctor/patient confidentiality is a big, honking deal, and since you’re not a minor, there’s no reason for any doctor to speak to your family about your health without your consent.

Just remember to breathe. It will be over much sooner than you might think.

Much love and hope,