When Sexual Assault Leaves You Feeling Suicidal
If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
In April of 2012, I was sexually assaulted. It didn’t happen the way I had always seen it portrayed in the movies or on television. I wasn’t drugged or drunk. I walked into the room with the assailant. I didn’t scream. I felt for a long time that it was my fault, that I should have seen the warning signs. That I should’ve been able to sense this boy was a predator — but I didn’t. I had no idea, in fact, I thought of this individual as a friend.
As if the assault wasn’t enough of a blow, I faced more trials. The first came from my then-boyfriend who didn’t believe me at first. The predator was a friend of his as well. He confronted the guy and took him for his word. So that brought me face-to-face with my attacker as he tried to convince me what he had done was not an assault, he thought it was what I wanted.
I wrestled with a strong wave of depression that night. I cried in the shower, as I often did, but this time I felt disgusted inside my own body and ashamed I couldn’t stop it. I felt guilt because of my boyfriend. He was angry with me for what happened, but the crazy thing? He yelled at me and got enraged when I couldn’t manage to say the predator’s name out loud. That was a really tough blow. To be attacked again but this time by someone you thought really loved you. I don’t think I ever told anyone about that.
I was so consumed by the pain and disgust that my whole mind shut down. Except for when I would finally fall asleep. My dreams were splashed with images of his face. I would wake up afraid and then stay up for hours until exhaustion overtook me. I couldn’t talk about it. I couldn’t think about it. I just wanted everything to stop.
I thought about suicide. My mind screamed at me that it was my only option. But I never tried. That is surprising when I look back on this event now. I never once tried to take my life. With as much guilt and pain that I still feel about it, I can’t understand why I didn’t do it. Perhaps because this pain was from the hands of someone else. Or maybe my brain could never really understand why it happened to me?
I guess I’ll never really know that answer. My assault didn’t cause me to self-harm more than I already did. There was no spike in the lashing out that I did to myself. All I can really remember happening was crying all the time and being afraid to even leave my bedroom.
It was a very long time before I could even imagine holding hands with someone again. The thought of being touched in any way by someone else was scary and unwanted. I still become paranoid when I’m in a new place or I’m alone with a male I don’t know. Would someone else hurt me again? Would they do worse things to me?
I live with these worries every day now. I wish I wasn’t afraid, but how can I not be? A person stole a piece of innocence from me and I can’t grasp that I’m safe now.
My assault added to my depression in a way I couldn’t imagine. It overtook my dreams, I would relive it every night for a long long time. I don’t know if it made me stronger. It made me see the world differently, it made the darker parts of the grayscale picture more vivid. But stronger? I will say it gave me a strength in overcoming my self-harm. I never took the assault out on my own flesh. I feel my heart and mind knew that I had suffered enough at the hands of another.
Did I become more depressed after my assault? Yes. Did I hurt myself in response to it? No. Did I make it through unscathed? Not quite, but I did learn more about myself. I learned I could survive and that I wanted to. This event should’ve been a tipping point where I just gave up completely, but I didn’t. I never gave in even when I wanted to. I overcame one of the worst moments of my life and now it’s just a story I can tell. It’s part of my story, but it doesn’t make me who I am. I am who I wish to be and that is not a victim. I am a survivor and I will keep surviving.
Unsplash photo via Soragrit Wongsa