It’s not very often that you can take the moments and events of your life and say this is what brought me to this moment. A Facebook interaction spawns a relationship. You drop your cell phone, slightly lift the pressure on the gas pedal and miss getting a car accident by seconds. For me a break-in, a run in with the IRS and an eviction lead me to an actual home that is safe and more than I ever thought I could afford. Finally coming out as bisexual, lead to me going on a journey of truth, which lead to a decision to be sober, which lead to me deciding to go to therapy, when I no longer had a bottle to erase my faults. Today, I can say, a run in with a person from my past, a therapy session (or 3), a tashlich and an online confrontation with a local promoter, have brought me to this point. The point where I realize I have no choice but to be honest with myself and my past.
I’ve been told that one in five women have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I often wonder if I count as 2 or if each of my assaults combine to still be one of the statistics? When your first sexual assault happens at the age of 6 or 7, it takes a lifetime to be able to comprehend how devastating it is. It was then that I learned to forget. That is when I learned to pretend that nothing was the matter. I’m sure the years after dealing with physical and emotional abuse reinforced my silence. I taught myself, that if I don’t speak it into existence, it doesn’t exist. I learned how silence can protect your family. It was then that I learned love, was just a word that people wanted to hear, no matter if you meant it. It is now that I realize silence does nothing but shove the reality of situations into the pit of your soul. Silence puts you in situations where you are alone in despair, even if you’re in a sea of people. Silence is what a child does when they are faced with grown up situations. As a woman approaching 40 and finally facing the traumas of my past, there is one incident that my silence has done nothing but put me in triggering situations and not protecting the person victimized… me.
For over a decade, I’ve hidden the story of my rape from most of the world. I wrote a poem, that I’d perform in spaces, but rarely did those spaces occupy my actual people. I’ve written post about being a survivor but never spoke of details, as I didn’t want people to know my business. Sharing space with people involved, pretending nothing happened, as to not cause drama. I am tired of being silent. I am tired of being civil. I am tired of perpetuating the stigma that protects the rapists and those involved, and shames the victim. I am tired of walking around blaming myself for being in a situation and trusting people to help me. I have come to a point where I finally realize, it isn’t my fault that I was raped. No one has the right to violate another person. Consent is real and should be honored. I AM NOT TO BLAME!
So please know that I am going to go into some of the details of that night, so I can finally free myself and name my trauma. I must do this to move past the guilt and shame and put it on the people who actually deserve it. I was at an after-hours with several people including a person that I trusted. I didn’t even just call this person my friend, I called him my brother. We all continued to drink as that is what is done at an after-hours, and honestly I can’t really tell you much as I don’t remember. This time not because of defense mechanisms, but because of alcohol. I came to on the floor, with a pillow beneath my head, my brother on the couch, a blanket covering my body and the body of the person entering me from behind. The next thing I remember is waking up the next morning, with my pants around my ankles and no other person in sight… alone and confused. I can’t tell you how I got home, as that memory definitely went to the place where trauma goes to hide. I can tell you, my rapist disappeared and I completely distanced myself from the person I thought was my friend and went about pretending.
That’s the fucked up thing about these types of rapes. You blame yourself for being drunk. Other people tell you it’s your fault. The questions start circling in your head… Did I say something? Did I flirt with them? I must have done something… just so you don’t have to admit you were raped. For some reason it’s easier. At least, it was for me. Swallowing the truth and detaching from those involved seemed easier than going through the humiliation of admitting someone has been inside me without permission. Silence is easier then the social ridicule. You trick yourself into believing it’s better if you just deal with it alone. You don’t want to stop other people from eating at their favorite restaurant. You don’t want your son to know that the man he called uncle, watched you get raped. You don’t want to have to deal with the looks of pity. The gossip. You already know how horrible the words are that you say to yourself, you don’t need other people chiming in.
Then you realize you don’t deserve to be the person tormented by this. Being raped and surviving it is hard enough without having to see the person that was supposed to protect you on the street. I realized that speaking my truth and being honest about the hurt, will put the blame on the people who deserve it. My rapist and those that watched are the ones that should be shamed, not me.
I’m also speaking up because I know that my story isn’t isolated. I know that it’s more the 1 in 5 because every woman I know has been assaulted, raped or molested. Every woman I know, has to live with that fear everyday she walks out on the street. Hell, we even deal with that reality while we are in our house. Ask any woman, what weapons she has been given and are in her home. That threat is multiplied for all my femme and trans women friends as well. I hope my story will give someone the courage to speak out. I hope my story will make some one rethink how they speak. Maybe someone will teach their sons about consent. Maybe someone will speak up when they see their friend is drunk. Maybe someone will decide to cast out a known rapist and predator instead of remaining friends and doing business with them. Maybe it won’t change the world, but it has changed me. What I do know is I will no longer be afraid to speak my truth. I will no longer be civil to those that don’t deserve it. I will no longer turn the other cheek simply because it’s easier then speaking up. I will no longer be silent.