I talk. A lot. My mouth runs like clockwork- 24/7.
We can grab a drink and catch a sport’s game. I’ll keep up with your statistics, predictions and banter.
I have no problem debating politics with anyone who swears not to end up hurling something at my head.
Book lover? Let’s head down to the local coffee shop and chat up the latest novel.
TV fanatic? I’m a Shondaland junkie.
Gossip? Sit next to me.
Yeah, after 20 years of practice, I feel confident enough with my verbal skills to host a talk show and give Oprah a run for her money.
(Okay, that might be pushing it.)
But it was in one of those rare moments when I was giving my vocal chords a rest and doing pretty much what I’m doing right now sitting outside, headphones in my ear, dazing off and letting my mind wander that I couldn’t help but do what I imagine most people my age do…
And it was during this one particular, oh-so-fun, self-therapy session that it occurred to me that I am, in fact, probably not the world’s greatest talker.
I mean, sure, I may talk plenty.
But do I really say anything?
That is what matters isn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not under the impression that every comment that pops out of my mouth has to be Pulitzer-worthy. But it would be nice to know that at least 10% of the crap that I spew serves some commendable purpose.
Have you ever seen someone make a speech?
Have you ever really watched them? Listened to them?
One person standing up in front of a crowd, inspiring them with some motivational “things need to change” sermon.
They’ll stand up there and open up about something personal or taboo for the greater good.
They have that mesmerizing look of courage and determination in their eyes.
Their fist swings with confidence and power.
Every syllable is clearly annunciated and spoken with such volume and certainty that each word cuts through you like a knife.
And I don’t just mean the President or key speakers at a conference or something like that.
I’m talking everyday blokes.
Those lionhearted individuals who stand up on tables in the middle of a park or on the steps of a capital building and make themselves heard.
Some think it’s crazy.
I think it’s brilliant.
I was raped.
Sorry, I didn’t really know a fancy or clever way to lead into that. So I just decided to spring it on you the same way the assault was sprung on me.
Like so many others, I’ve stayed quiet.
No cops. No counseling.
My parents don’t know. Most of my friends don’t know.
This has been an experience in which my supposedly unstoppable verbal skills have failed me.
I’m not going to sit here and list off percentages or statistics. I’m not going to preach some “real men don’t rape” motto or complain about the justice system and the politicians who play on that playground.
(I’ll save that for another time)
Because really this is so much more than numbers, catchy slogans, or assholes saying my vagina can reject whatever I decide I don’t want in there.
No, this is about me.
About all survivors.
About all of us having a right to feel safe in the world we live in.
So, why don’t we all speak up?
I ask myself that quite often.
A friend of mine one time asked me that very question.
“Why can’t you just tell your family?”
"They couldn’t handle it," I said. "It would be too much."
That’s a lie.
I guess it’s partially true, I’d hate to put all of this on them.
But, I know when I answered with that I was just making an excuse¾ one of many that I’ve made for myself over the past two years.
Truth is, on nights when I can’t sleep; when I have images haunting me and silenced sobs burning the back of my throat, I’ve wanted nothing more than to wake everyone up and make them stay up and suffer with me.
I have this idyllic idea of someone making me hot chocolate, squeezing my hand so hard that the physical pain distracts me from the emotional one, while we watch some laughable straight-to-DVD horror movie on Netflix.
So then, why?
Why can’t I, as John Mayer would put it, say what I need to say?
Maybe it’s shame. I do feel shame.
I’m ashamed of feeling ashamed.
I’ve seen enough Lifetime movies and have read enough ‘survivor empowerment’ pamphlets to know better than to feel ashamed about this. None of this was my fault. Bla bla bla.
Nonetheless, I do feel that overpowering sensation of shame and failure.
Mostly of how I handled it. Even how I currently handle it.
I’m disappointed that it’s been two years and I’m still this mess of a person.
I’m angry that I didn’t go to the cops and get the evidence collected and help put this bastard behind bars. I hate myself for knowing that because of me and my lack of bravery, this poor excuse of a man is out there possibly hurting others the way he hurt me. I didn’t save those women. I feel like I’m as much to blame as he is.
Would telling people take those feelings away? Doubt it. I’ll probably have to live with this guilt for the rest of my life.
I can’t even describe how much that scares me.
Then there’s the lack of validation.
What if nobody believes me?
This is probably one of my lesser concerns because people who know me know that I’m pretty honest. Sometimes too honest. Besides, what would I have to gain by making this all up?
But, still. Having someone look me in the eye, after pouring my heart out to them, and saying they don’t believe me would be pretty devastating.
Even more than that, probably my biggest fear, and the one that is unavoidable: I’m going to sit with someone, cry to them, take my mask off and show them a side of me that most people don’t even know exists, share with them these horrific, traumatic details that plague my mind day in and day out and…
the clock isn’t going to stop ticking.
The world isn’t going to stop spinning.
That person’s life isn’t going to come to a standstill.
Not the way mine has.
What if I put myself through this terrifying, nerve-wracking conversation, and let my walls come crumbling down, only to get a look of pity, an awkward hug and a half-hearted, “I’m here for you.” That’s it.
I don’t know what I expect, or what I want from people. But, I know that that would kill me.
The fact that they’ll go on with their day like nothing’s changed while I remained trapped in this black hole of numbness just leaves me with this pang of envy and betrayal that I know I shouldn’t have, but I have it just the same.
Will they understand how hard this has been on me?
Will they get that just the very idea of sharing all of this takes this unimaginable toll on me?
Opening up is not my forte. Trusting someone with this is hard for me.
The idea of them giving up on me… walking away like I’m some damaged, lost cause… makes me sick to my stomach.
I can’t expect them to check up on me every day or to sit with me when I’m drunk and vulnerable and need a shoulder to cry on. I can’t expect them to be there at 2AM, preferably with a big ol’ pizza, when I can’t sleep and all I want is to be held.
And stupidly, I’ll take that lack of dedication as a lack of concern and will push them away… which is ridiculous and doesn’t make sense, but none of this makes sense now does it?
I have spent the last two years trying to figure all of this out. Decipher my emotions. Understand why I’m so irrational. Make sense of this senselessness.
And I can’t.
And that’s terrifying.
A part of me is gone, Dead.
Some days I just want to hide.
I’m tired of plastering a fake smile on my face on days when I just feel like crying.
I’m pissed that no one notices something is wrong with me.
And then when someone does ask why I’ve changed so much, I get offended.
I won’t let myself get attached to people anymore.
I can hardly be intimate.
I can’t let myself fall in love with someone.
I’ve been swallowed up by this big ball of hatred, resentment and grief.
And I’m not telling you all of this to gain your sympathy. That’s not my goal.
All I’m asking is that while you read this, you let it sink in.
Don’t just skim through these lines.
Try to imagine going through something like this. Living with it. Day after day. Night after night. Alone.
I don’t expect you to completely understand.
Hell, I don’t even completely understand.
But rape has been on the news and shown up on TV shows and movies so often anymore that even though I think the exposure is fantastic, I also think we’ve grown to just accept that it happens. Like it’s a hurricane. A natural disaster. Shitty. But, eh, they’re just one of those unfair things that happen in this wonderful world of ours. We’ve grown disgustingly accustomed to this malicious crime being a daily happening.
That’s bullshit. We can’t just shake our heads and say ‘too bad’ whenever we hear about a sexual assault case in the headlines. You know what?
Imagine some monster pinning you against the wall telling you that you want it; that you’re wet and ready for him.
Imagine him shoving your pants down, ignoring your cries and pleas for him to stop.
His mouth sucking on your neck. On your chest.
His hands all over you. Groping. Rubbing. Pinching.
Him dragging an old nail he found in the wall across your arm, drawing blood, because you refused to hold eye contact with him.
Then he doesn’t let you leave the room while he paces, all the while talking to you like this whole ordeal is normal, like this is all a good time, and he’s ready to go again.
Right before he left, he told me that it was nice to meet me.
That this was fun.
This all happened during the day, by the way.
In a not so private place.
Not in a dark alley or in a bar parking lot.
It wasn’t a predictable scene from a scary movie, but it still became my horror story.
Is that sinking in?
Can you feel it?
Those stomach pains?
That pang in your chest?
The lump in the back of your throat?
I live with that.
Afterward, I cleaned up in a nearby bathroom, grabbed a coffee, and went home.
I was alone. In every way a person can be alone. Still am.
And it’s an insufferable pain that I wish on no one.
Sometimes, I wish he killed me.
Other days, I am so utterly grateful to be alive. I smile without force. I have a good laugh with friends. I bask in the sun and am just so damn thankful to be here. To have survived. To be able to write this all down.
Some weren’t as lucky.
And I’m well aware that this isn’t the best written thing in the world.
After all, I didn’t plan on writing this today. I didn’t think it out.
Maybe only five people will ever read it.
But in my own way, this is me standing on a table in the middle of the park.
Or swinging my fist on the steps of the capital building.
This is me telling you that the trauma of being raped doesn’t go away after that day. Or after a month. Or even a year.
It stays with you. It becomes a part of you. It’s a lifelong battle, and although I’m not exactly happy with how I handle all of this, I am sort of proud.
Like it or not, I dealt with this on my own. I hug myself on my bad nights. I comfort myself remind myself that everything is going to be okay. It’s going to get better.
I hold my head up every day and fight.
That man took a lot from me.
But I’m still here. I’m not giving up.
I’m going into battle for all of us.
This is me trying to regain control of my life.
And through this I hope to reach out to others who have been on this hell roller coaster and say that you have the right to feel every senseless, crazy, shitty emotion that you’re feeling. I get it. I understand. I’m here with you.
You, though it feels like it, are not alone.
We all need to stand together now.
Folks, don’t look at survivors as just another statistic or nameless victim to an anticipated crime.
Stop looking at rape like something that just happens.
Share your outrage!
We’re people! Daughters. Siblings, Spouses. Friends.
Give us love. Give us support. Stand by us. Do your part. Give a voice back to the voiceless.
And hey, spread this around…
Maybe. Just maybe. You can help me remember how to utilize these fabulous verbal skills of mine.
Sending you all love, peace, strength, the courage to battle whatever obstacles may come your way, and the invaluable ability to look past the horror and see the beauty in the world.
Stay safe, friends.
Please visit www.rainn.org for more information on sexual assault or to reach out for help.
—Submitted by anon