It seems that I can’t scroll through social media without being reminded of that night. After my second assault, I wished for nothing more than to have those experiences erased from my memory. To overcome. To edit out the details as if my life was as simple as a photoshopped picture.
I read the headlines about rape accusations, and every time I bite my tongue because they hit too close home. These triggers force me to time travel back to the night I was too far gone to open my eyes or my mouth, but was still conscious enough to feel everything.
As much as I try to rise above and work hard to make sure those negative experiences don’t define me or affect my abilities, I can’t pretend that I do not think of them on a daily basis.
After that night, I told a few of my closest friends about the events, but no one knew how to handle the information. So, to make sure no one else was uncomfortable with my story, I did the opposite of what one who has faced this kind of trauma should do. I repressed it – decided to move on with my life since I was transferring schools anyway.
I took one of my finals the following day as if nothing had happened. It was important to not feel anything. I went to the extremes of not crying for months to crying over everything. Also, I went a year and a half without having sex and then through a phase of casual relationships that revolved around nothing but sex.
The first productive sign of healing appeared when I decided to start writing about my personal experiences. However, this backfired after another assault survivor shamed me for the way I chose to cope with my own experience. I was back to repression, and I tried not to acknowledge that the events even occurred.
This experience taught me to never question the validity of another’s pain. There is no standard sizing chart that measures the relevance of trauma.
No one expects it to happen to them. I didn’t know about my resources; I didn’t know I had time to report it within three days of the occurrence.
Not only that. We rarely acknowledge the other factors that go along with scenarios like this. I didn’t want to ruin his life and receive any negative attention — to be the girl who cried rape. More, I didn’t have the heart to stand up for myself by directly telling him that what he did was wrong. I don’t think he even realized that he actually did something wrong..
When I opened up about my experiences, people would refer to me as “brave.” However, I can’t say I agree. I came out of the situation, but I was just lucky.
Every day, I read the headlines, and I regret my decision even more. I carry the guilt of not reporting what happened to me. I lose sleep over the fact that another girl might experience what I did. I’m scared that this might turn into an endless cycle: when I could have and should have been brave.
Originally published on Thought Catalog
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