My self entitled rant

No one fully appreciates the trauma of a sexual assault unless they too have experienced it.

I remember when I trained with Victim Support and I heard people who were the victims of house burgleries feel violated, stating that they felt almost like they’d been raped.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting into a ‘who has it worse’ scenario.  I’m not going to trivialize a home invasion, and I completely understand, although not having experienced it, that it would be extremely frightening and traumatic.  In America, you can shoot someone while trying to defend your property.  And of course, people have worked very hard to accumulate these items.  So I’m not putting that trauma down AT ALL.  BUT, yes, the inevitable but, items, aside from sentimental items can be replaced.  They can be insured, they can be, well, effectively lived without.  No, I wouldn’t like it if someone stole my phone, my TV, my laptop, my jewellery, or waded through my personal effects.  No I wouldn’t feel safe for a long time after.

But how can that compare to someone forcing themselves onto your most intimate, private and irreplaceable body?  I couldn’t fight the man off of me, he didn’t care what I said or did, he didn’t even care that people heard, he was taking my body and using it for his own gratification irrespective of anything else.  I can’t replace the virginity that I lost, I can’t forget what he did.  I can never feel entirely clean of him either. My body still reacts to flashbacks, triggers, even medical exams.  I lost a piece of myself that I will never get back.  And in that, I will never be able to feel fully safe in my own body again.  For the rest of my life, I will always know that someone is fully capable of forcing themselves onto me, despite my protests – physical and/or verbal, despite the chance someone could catch him, despite my best efforts to avoid certain situations – as victim blamers and rape culture tends to denote that there is.  I will always know that this CAN happen because IT did happen.  It’s not the stuff I read on the news and thank god it wasn’t me.  Its not the stuff people can joke about and I can impishly smile and ignore it because they’re talking about me.  They’re joking about me.  I can’t live in a world where bad stuff happens when you’re in the wrong place, wearing the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, etc.  I know that it can happen when you’re barely a teenager, when you think you’re in a safe place, when the world is a big and beautiful place and bogeyman live only in the darkest corner of nightmares.

So when a trauma, as physically and as intrusive as rape occurs, there is no fix.  No cure, no healing balm.  No number of therapy sessions, no special words, no magic pills.

You learn to live with this horrible awareness, this painful notion that the world goes on, even though part of you died that night. Even though your brain can’t fully appreciate the depth of the horror, the pain of the horror and permanent reminders of the horror.

My subsequent relationship was an unhealthy one.  I trusted this person with my past experience, and he used it to gain power over me.  The person I trusted, physically held this power over me.  Knowing he could break me, mould me, control me, scare me, own me.  But to me he wasn’t the rapist.  I didn’t know the rapist, but I knew this guy.  I shared his bed.  I had sexual relations with him, I ate dinner with him, I knew his family and friends.  He was my protector, my provider and my partner.  I showered and bathed with him. Celebrated with him.  And yet he was able to push me down and take what he wanted, until the pain was so unbearable that it was hard to walk.  To squeeze my throat, to threaten to end me, to demean me and degrade me.  To ‘permit’ toilet breaks, to take my clothes, to hide me from the world.  But he was my partner.  I loved him and I thought I needed him.  I was young, he was my saviour.

Only leaving when a knife nearly took my choices away.

Only YEARS later did I begin to question the relationship.  Its validity, its impact, its power and control cycle. For so long, he had been ‘just a boyfriend.’

I have since been married (to a different man), had my beautiful kids and now I am separated.  And I take stock of my life, I consider the impact of all of my years on this earth.  The pain and suffering.  The lack of support.  How the only way I knew how to survive was to travel.  Alone.  To avoid people, to avoid relationships.  To avoid hurt.

I could play a role of wife to my ex husband, not really encompassing all that is involved in that duty.  Not fully ready to commit, or trust.  But to engage in an otherwise healthy marriage, or what I deem to be considered healthy and raise my children in a family full of love and compassion.  No fear, open communication and honesty.

In my separation I am left wondering who I really am.  Not able to trust, thrust often into the past.  No one to discuss these fears or concerns with – my choice – I get that.

But essentially after leaning on another man for so many years, I feel like I am left to grow all over again, dissect things, consider things, feel things, grieve for things.

My body doesn’t feel safe.  I don’t feel safe.  No home, no car, no person can change any of that.

So I don’t think anyone can place a time frame on trauma.  I don’t think anyone can have expectations or work along a linear healing process.

I am blind in my healing.  I always have been.  Wanting to move away, move on, not talk, not discuss the pain, the memories, the trauma.  Not acknowledging the nightmares, the triggers, my own limitations.

Who I am today is part moulded on the traumas of what I have experienced.  The fears, lack of trust, negative self talk, inability to talk out loud about my struggles, the fact that it has taken SO LONG to come to terms with any of it.  To process it, to accept it.

I make no excuses for my anxiety, I make no excuses for my mental health and I make no excuses for the way I am wired.

I will manage my mental health – that is, not ignore the advice of mental health professionals, and I will try not to blame the entire world for my pain.

But make no mistake, I have been wounded so deeply that I deserve my good days and my bad days.  My scared days, my down days, and my anxiety.

I am not entitled to anything from my marriage, but I will always have my voice.

 

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Identity

Daughter

Mother

Wife

Rape survivor 

Domestic violence survivor 

Friend

Advocate

Caring

Selfish

Self absorbed

Lost

Abandoned

Loved

Hated

Tolerated 

Separated

Anonymous

Forgotten 

Vulnerable

Sad

Fiesty

Resented

Child

Who am I?

All of the above, it’s not exhaustive though. I’m sure other people would add plenty more. 

Some probably cruel, some quite nice. Maybe indifferent.

Daughter? Not really anymore. I’m estranged from my family. They wouldn’t know if I was dead or alive. Moreover they’re probably not that bothered anyway, I’m far from the perfect daughter.

Mother? I try. But I’m in a different country now, did I abandon my children? Was I really unselfish enough to give them what they needed?

Wife? Not anymore. I failed. My husband detests me. For most reasons above and a whole lot more

Rape survivor? Who cares? It was years ago, but I always carry it around. A weight, a struggle. An obstacle I brought into my relationship. My excuse for my behaviour. My excuse to feel sorry for myself. A compound of irrational fears. Emotions that can’t be helped with medications and therapy.

Domestic violence survivor? Similarly, what’s the point of this? This label. So I dated an arsehole. I thought I could change him, I couldn’t. It just adds to my bitterness, my hostility and further compounds irrational fears. A sense of self loathing. 

Friend? I hope so. To some. I do care about people.

The rest are a medley of words I associate with myself. I’ve come to learn as my behaviour.

I’m seen differently by different people. Like some like my assertiveness, some find it offensive. 

If someone created me as a template of a person, they would screw up the page and throw it away. Too contrasting, too damaging. Not really worth all the hassle.

Wife, daughter, mother – I have lost the right to those titles. By my own doing. No one should pity me, there is no justification. No excuse. I failed on all parts.

I’m anonymous. One of those people that could disappear, and people might ask a few laters, hey what happened to that girl?

My direction has ended. 

My journey is pointless. I am the person I will always be. I can try to better myself, less of the negative personality traits. I do think over the last few weeks things have shifted.

But I am one person. One person intrinsically destined to fail at anything I set out to do.

Destined to cause complications, hurt, annoyance, and fragmented distortion wherever I go. 

Was it the rapist that changed me? Did he see something in me, like a cancer, and pushed this evil cancer to become all consuming?

Was it the partner? Did he break me down? Take away my sense of purpose?

Was it an accumulation of events? Or was I just born inheritably bad? A medley of bad thoughts. A cold heart.

What will become of me?

I’m afraid of my past, present and future. Because all are bleak.

In the mirror I see an unattractive, overweight, dark eyed image of a woman. I can’t relate to that reflection. I have no empathy, no pride, no belief in the plain face that looks back at me. One eye seems half closed, my nose is big and crooked, my smile is crooked.

Ugly inside and outside.

Am I destined to bumble through life? A loner, a loser?

I used to believe I was destined for big things. To make change, to help people, to fight for what I believe in.

But that was obviously a childish egotistical theory.

I am in truth a nobody. I belong to nobody, nobody belongs to me. I am unaccounted for luggage in an airport. Best avoided.

My identity is the depth of the name in my passport.