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Dear Self, Please Don't Let Your Rapist Define You

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Dear self,

You did it. You finally found the courage to come forward and tell the world about being raped. I know that word still leaves a sour taste in your mouth and makes your heart skip a few beats. I know that must have been so hard. I’m proud of you for taking a leap of faith and putting your fear aside and speaking up.

• What is PTSD?

Guess what? You’re free now!

He no longer rules your life. I know that may be hard to understand right now, but soon you will be able to believe that. I know you will. I want you know that you are valued, so very valued. You are treasured and loved despite what you think and feel at times. I know you feel a tremendous amount of shame and guilt and that’s OK. I won’t try to take it from you because I can’t. When you’re ready, let it go; let it go, far, far away. Release it and know that you don’t need to carry it around anymore. It doesn’t define you. It’s done. Shame and guilt no longer have power over you. Claim it and live it!

I’ve noticed you’ve been in a lot of pain lately and I’m sorry. Let it out, for goodness sake please let it out. Don’t let it fester inside of you anymore. It’s not good. You say it’s your thoughts and I get it. This type of trauma has a way of getting under your skin. I know that has to be hard, but don’t let him win. Don’t let him take any more from you. You matter too much.

Listen to me. I know what you’re going through has to be hell. I know it’s not easy. I know the memories suck. I know the flashbacks hurt. I know the anger and frustration can be overbearing. I know it sucks the life out of you. I get it. I do. But please listen and listen very carefully: You have a choice. Yes, a choice. A choice to choose something different. You don’t have to be a victim any more. This is probably a bit confusing and hard to swallow because by all means were you the victim. You are the victim. But in this case, it’s a little different. In this case, you have the power — most victims don’t. You have the power to choose how things will end up. You have the power to choose something different. You have the power to choose life over death. This is something most people can’t grasp. I can’t even grasp it, but I want you to.

You often wear your abuse on your chest like a scarlet letter and that’s OK. I expect you to, but when you’re ready, release it. I give you permission to throw it away. You don’t need to hold onto it so tightly anymore. I know it’s easier said than done. I know it doesn’t make sense. I know it’s frustrating and I know it hurts. I know you think people don’t understand and it sucks. Most people will never understand and that alone is hard. I know you want people to hear you. I know you want to be validated and you will get that, but it may not be like how you wanted it to be and you will have to be OK with that.

This journey will not be easy. By no means will it be easy. You definitely have your work cut out for you. There will be times when you will want to kick and scream because nothing makes sense. There will be times when you are overwhelmed by all the lies. There will be times when you will want to give up. I expect all of these things from you, but again, it’s OK. This is what healing looks like; pushing forward when you have reached your limit and can’t go on any further. It’s in those moments that you truly find yourself. It’s in those moments that you remember how far you have come and remember where you want to go. I have faith in you and I know you will succeed. Remember how many people are rooting for you. If healing were made easy, everyone would be doing it. If healing were made easy, we’d miss the beauty in it.

Shine bright, sunshine. I am proud of you.

Grace and Peace,

Your still recovering self

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.

Unsplash photo via Katerina Radvanska

Originally published: November 10, 2017
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