Trigger Warning: The following article discusses and describes sexual assault and may be upsetting to some readers.
It’s hard for me to identify as a “victim of assault” or a “victim of rape”. And I think that’s the case for many people. We feel dramatic, we feel ashamed, we feel unimportant in our story. This stems from a thing our society has developed called rape culture. Any form of sexual assault isn’t normal, nor okay.
It’s time we recognize our stories. More importantly, our strength.
My assaulter doesn’t know me. He probably wouldn’t remember my face if he saw me, and probably wouldn’t even remember this story if I told him. But I remember him. I remember him well. Mainly, I remember how this experience made me feel.
I remember waking up after a night out and being told I had sex with a stranger, which came as a shock to me. I remember realizing that I was the only one offered a drink, and from that point on, everything was a blur. I remember waking up with my body in pain and not the kind of pain you feel because you had sex you remember –but because you had sex you don’t remember. I remember being told by my best friend that she had to put my clothes on me because I couldn’t put them on myself. I remember her telling me that as she was dressing me, he was yelling at her to “hurry up” and “get the fuck out”. I remember feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life. I remember saying I felt like trash and feeling like my body had been invaded. I remember realizing the severity of the experience 2 days later, having to go to the doctor to be told that the pain I felt was from force and that I needed every test they could give me, to be safe. “People that do things like this usually aren’t the best people”, my doctor told me.
And now, almost a year later, I remember how it felt. Because I still know how it feels. The internal battle of if this was my fault. If I would have drunk a little less, maybe it wouldn’t have happened. If I would have said “no” to going to that apartment, maybe it wouldn’t have happened. If I never would have even gone to the bar to begin with, maybe it wouldn’t have happened. But this isn’t the case. The bottom line is, if he didn’t take advantage of a woman in a vulnerable state, that’s the only way it wouldn’t have happened. I won’t fault myself any longer for what happened to me. I’ll take responsibility for putting myself in a dangerous situation. But I’ll never take responsibility for his actions that have immensely affected me.
To my assaulter, it was a night at the bar where he hooked up with some girl he just met that was “too fucked up”. For me, it was a night that will mean something the rest of my life.
And because of it, I’m stronger. Because of it, I’ve learned to protect myself. Because of it, I want to raise awareness on what happens behind closed doors — the things that people don’t like to talk about. Because the things that are the most uncomfortable to talk about are what need to be talked about the most.
If you’re struggling with the effects of an assault, no matter what the circumstances, you are beyond valid.
Always remember your trauma doesn’t define you.
You are valid to feel how you do and you are valid to handle your feelings how you wish. And you are so immensely loved and worthy.