Editor’s Note: Trigger warning for rape-related content.
“I was raped.”
How do those words sit with you? Does your stomach immediately turn with repulsion and anger? Do you immediately begin asking questions? Do you wonder if I am exaggerating or making it up? Do you quietly whisper, “me too”? Or do you move on with your life like I never said anything?
For me, those words make me want to vomit. I immediately begin trying to minimize the situation and defend myself. My body goes into fight-or-flight mode, and I begin fighting panic. I replay the assault over and over again wondering if maybe I misunderstood something about the situation. The thing is, though, I didn’t misunderstand. I grasped everything far too clearly.
The men who stole my life from me walk freely, but I never will. They received a moment of sexual pleasure, and I received PTSD. They can put what happened out of their minds, and I am left with nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks. They live their lives without consequence, and I get to drop out of college for mental health treatment. They stole my innocence, and I have given up my dreams, passions, and life in an attempt to understand why. I am relearning how to keep myself alive because two adult men did not think that taking advantage of a child would affect anyone.
Please, tell me how this is fair. Tell me that I am simply missing something. Tell me that maybe “no” does mean “yes” or that a vulnerable young child is actually public property. Explain to me why they don’t see any fault in their actions and I cannot get past the guilt.
You can’t, and and you have no right to try unless you’ve been there as well. I sure as hell hope that you haven’t, but knowing that this is a constant problem leads me to pull up chairs for fellow survivors far too often. If you whispered your quiet understanding, please find comfort in the community that shouldn’t exist. Come close, and know that you are not alone.
“I was raped”
“My abuser walks free.”
“He still calls.”
“His friends and family don’t believe me.”
I will live with this over my head for the rest of my life. His hand will have been the first to touch me, and I will never be able to change that. Their names are carved into the body I call home, and no matter how many times I repaint, those words will not go away. I cannot cover them up. They made me their own.
Now, how does that sit with you?
Tatiana is a college student who has had to take time off of school due to mental health being a priority. She loves soccer, dogs, and mountains.