Ever since I was five years old, I’ve felt detached from everyone around me. I would casually tell my parents that I thought they were my “earth parents” and that I was actually an alien. (Remember that I was five.)
My explanation for the detachment I felt was outrageous, but the feeling was right. I didn’t think it was a bad thing, mostly because I got to view the world as an outsider and develop a curiosity for how other people felt and thought.
When I was sexually assaulted this past summer, I credit this detachment for how I reacted and handled the situation: I dived into research.
The statistics that I had seen about sexual assault previously, suddenly took on a whole new meaning because I was a part of them now. I was experiencing the aftermath of my assault as an insider and an outsider.
Data and statistics were retrieved from RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
While educating myself and trying to process what had been done to me, I came across the stories of other women and men and I felt like I was part of this community of survivors and shared painful experiences.
I kept looking for more stories and speaking with other people about their experiences and I knew that one day I would want to share my own story. I realized that speaking about what happened to me is important because rape survivors should not have to feel ashamed about the actions of another person.
In a thinkprogress.org article about rape survivors, the communications coordinator at Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) said ,“More survivors going public also helps to debunk myths about rape and how it happens, and it shows the public just how many people this issue affects.”
That statement was so true in my situation because I have learned so much and found a sense of community just from reading and hearing the stories of other sexual assault survivors.
I had a million thoughts crammed in my head and I still had to figure out how to tell the people closest to me. In all honesty, I never wanted to tell them and I was afraid of their reactions.
Despite my reservations, I knew that they deserved an explanation for my moody, distant and hostile behavior. I also wanted to pick their brains and have really honest conversations about how they felt.
I’ll let the Lord forgive him, but I can’t.
What I gathered from listening to the people that I shared my story with is that there was a common thread of anger and pain that I still felt slightly detached from. I had had the longest time to process what had happened to me and there was still a part of me that wanted to bury that experience .
So I did what I like to do best: I asked questions. This time I interviewed myself and tried to be as honest with myself as possible.
I’m not broken, I’m bruised.
I thought that interviewing myself would be the easiest interview I would have to do. I had agonized over the assault for weeks and months, trying to figure out how I felt about what had happened. But sitting in front of my mirror trying to be honest with myself about where my head was while I was being raped, I felt like I couldn’t find the right words.
In retrospect, I think that my struggle to find the words to describe how I felt while it was happening is the best description that I can offer. I think I wanted to give a poetic and thought provoking answer and prove that I can make something beautiful out of the ugliest situation. But the reality is that sometimes you can’t make art out of tragedy and you have to accept the tragic parts of your life.
I will never fully understand why I was raped and I will also never get an explanation from my attacker. I am working to accept that more and more each day because I don’t want to obsess over an event that I can’t change. It makes it hurt longer.
Speaking about what happened to me is important because rape survivors should not have to feel ashamed about the actions of another person.
I find myself viewing the world through a new set of eyes that are much more empathetic and thoughtful. I saw a Tweet recently that further made me rethink the way I approached being assaulted:
I don’t know exactly how I am going to grow and evolve from what happened to me. I did learn that I am resilient, a little defiant and I’m not as much of an outsider as I thought I was.