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When Sexual Assault Leaves You Feeling Suicidal

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Editor's Note

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

Originally published: May 7, 2018
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