I reached out to my rapist the other day.
“Can we talk?”
This isn’t the first time I’ve reached out to him like this. Two years ago I did the same, except this time it was to tell him about a night three years prior that he had been too drunk to remember and I all too sober and young to forget.
Our friendship ended the night he raped me.
There’s this thing about being raped that nobody talks about – it becomes your responsibility. Rape doesn’t care whether or not you’re prepared to deal with the consequences. It doesn’t care that it’s shoving a secret inside of you, deep down into the caverns of your belly until you ache. After you’ve been raped, you’re the only person who can speak up about it. You’re the only person who gets to dictate whether or not the tree in the woods made any sound at all.
For three years I carried the weight of that night alone. I’m one of the only people I know that has been able to talk with their rapist and have them accept what they’ve done, the damage they caused.
“I’m horrified,” he told me when I was done with recounting what had happened. “I knew something horrible had happened between us. I never understood the depth or gravity.”
“This is so much worse than I could have expected,” he said at one point when I hadn’t even scraped the surface of the story.
I will always be grateful for the closure my assaulter – someone who was my best friend – gave to me the last time we spoke. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the last conversation I had with him. I wouldn’t have been able to heal the way I needed to without him taking responsibility for his actions, for finally helping me shoulder the weight of what he did to me and to our friendship five years ago.
The recent political climate has been triggering and empowering all at once. I can’t help but feel as though I’ve been standing on the sidelines, confused about my position, my right to speak up about my trauma. Am I allowed to talk about what happened if I got closure? Does that mean I’m not allowed to identify with it? I don’t know many girls who have been able to get closure from their assaulter, let alone even speak to them at all. Does that negate me from the entire equation?
Recently, Louis C.K. responded to the accusations of several different women who have stepped forward with stories of how he assaulted them. People — women — are upset that he never officially apologized. The words, “I’m sorry,” never quite made it to the article, but the words “shameful” did, as well as, “regret,” “advantage.”
These words hold more weight than the overused, cut and paste “I’m sorry.” I don’t care about a cut and paste apology. I don’t care if you ever apologize. Either way, you’ll never be truly forgiven about the things that have happened. We can move on, but we can’t erase the fact that your hands were on us.
The women who spoke out against Louis C.K. (Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia), just because their assaulter took responsibility doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Their trauma is still there. His hands were still on them. That pressure that one feels when being coerced into doing something they already know they don’t want to do… that never goes away. You’re locked in that box of pressure for a long, long time.
I know most girls never, EVER get this. I know how lucky I am to have been raped by someone who once loved me very, very dearly (isn’t that fucked up that that’s what I consider lucky?). But THIS is how we’re going to move forward as a country, as a community. Anyone can say the words, “I’m sorry,” but how many of them are going to say the words, “I did this to you, and I will be the first one to own up to it”?
Please don’t assume that I’m making excuses or telling everyone that it’s okay to rape so long as you take responsibility for it. These are the baby steps our society needs in order to move forward in the right direction.
He listened, and he accepted what has already been done. He’s acknowledged what has been damaged.
It still happened to me.
I just don’t want to be quiet about it anymore.