The Weight I Carry After My Sexual Assault


I don’t like having conversations about the assault that happened to me. I don’t like talking about it with my therapist or psychiatrist, and I’m terrified of bringing it up with anyone else. I can’t stand it because they all have these “pity eyes,” or they cry, or rub my shoulders.

Mostly I’m upset about it because I can’t cry about it and release any emotions.

Our society has come a long way in the conversation of sexual assault/rape, but I think many victims of those crimes still have the blame thrown onto their shoulders. I did that to myself. I carried (still am carrying) that weight around for a year already. I have the smallest details play over and over in my head while I try to fall asleep (which never really happens because I still can’t sleep more than two hours). I see everything every day, so I can’t close my eyes, but I don’t want to talk about it.

I want to talk about how it has affected me. It immobilizes, me physically and mentally, and I feel nothing. When I need to distract my brain from the memories, my body turns against itself by picking at scabs, biting my lip until it is raw and picking off the skin on my cuticles. Any stressful situation (which is as simple as walking to school, talking to the barista or trying to fall asleep) triggers something that makes me feel unsafe, so I pick to avoid the thoughts.

I clean my house constantly. Wash the floors, wipe out the kitchen sink, scrub the bathroom until it shines; I feel as though I’ve never been able to clean myself from his body on top of mine, touching everywhere. Desperation wins most nights and I take the tiny pills that relax my body enough to get a couple of hours of sleep.

I need people to know that social settings are by far the biggest trigger. I am a stranger in my own body, and by that I mean I have no idea how to act or react to anything anymore. I stand in the circle, laughing, nodding and listening when I’m supposed to. I stay shoulder to shoulder with my friends because any stranger (especially tall males) could potentially hurt me. I feel like I almost don’t know myself anymore; I’m dirty, invaded and uncertain. My skin pays the price for his inability to understand a simple “no.”

After the assault, I didn’t want to think about it. I pushed what happened into the deepest part of my being and let it rot. Eventually, it began to eat away at me, opening my soul up to dark things I haven’t known for a long time.

When someone disrespects your body, who you are, by defying your wishes, it knocks away a chunk. Maybe I was totally naive thinking that we would just watch a movie, or talk. I could have not gone, or I could have left the second I got a bad feeling, but I didn’t. I thought that someone would have respect for me, and not try and take advantage of the moment and my apparent uncertainty.

This is why we need to make the conversation about sexual assault safe. Maybe, if I had felt safe eleven months ago, I wouldn’t have ended up with the police having to talk me out of taking my life. I’ve known my entire life that when someone assaults you, it isn’t your fault. It is so hard to convince yourself of that after you consider all the options you could have chosen before the incident. When you try to tell yourself “I’ll be fine. I can deal with this by myself”, please turn to someone. There are trained people out there who will work through the storm of emotions you are going through.

The storm might feel really strong, and the aftermath will be draining to go through and clean up, but that’s why there is a team of people to clean up a community after a storm, not just one person.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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 Thinkstock photo via JZhuk


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