Why It Took Me So Long to Say 'I Was Raped' Out Loud
Rape is something you’re warned about as a teenager. Something you’re led to believe happens in dark alleyways by men you don’t know, when you’ve had too much to drink and lost your friends. That could not be further from the truth. Surely it couldn’t happen somewhere you’ve been before, somewhere you felt safe, by someone you knew, whilst stone-cold sober? It could be someone you trust, a friend, a partner or for a mere 7 percent of rapes each year, a stranger.
Surely this couldn’t happen to me? One of my best friends wouldn’t do that… would he? Someone who had stood by me for two years and whom I trusted with my life.
It took my counselor making me read the definition of rape for me to stop and think about this — even then I couldn’t say it out loud for another three months. She got me to write it down, over and over. At first I couldn’t face looking at it. The more I wrote it, the easier it became. I wrote it out hundreds of times, eventually I could say it in my head, and then out loud with really loud music in the background. When I eventually said it out loud, it was in the midst of a breakdown. I was required to share a room with a complete stranger, at a new job which happened to be residential. It was like a huge weight off my shoulders. It was out in the open. I’d said it out loud for the first time.
I know now that being able to admit “I was raped” was the first step to moving on. I will never forget, it will never go away and it is something I have to live with for the rest of my life. He stole something from me, physically, and psychologically and I’ll never get that back. Hopefully by accepting it I can move on, and eventually, lead a somewhat normal life.
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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Unsplash photo via Ricardo Gomez Angel