Here I Am Healing 3 Years After Surviving Rape
I’ve written, re-written, and re-re-written this letter probably over 20 times only to store it away for another day. Some mythical day when I’m strong enough to write without breaking down completely, when I can stay firmly rooted in my anger towards you and what you’ve done. Yet somehow here I am, in tears (again), sitting down on the floor of the women’s locker room at a hot yoga place writing this letter because I can’t even make it through a single class, a class that I so desperately wanted to take, because of you and that night. So instead of sweating through the heat and aches, I left midway to cry in the locker room before finally resolving to write because I’m afraid that if I don’t, the thoughts will eat me alive, from my heart down to the very last hair strand.
I want to begin by letting you know that you and the rape are far from being the worst things to happen to me in my life. Before you came along, I survived child sexual abuse that left me sex-phobic since I was 3 years old. My childhood was marred by traumatic events.
One of my earliest memories is of my aunt’s ex-boyfriend/boss bursting into our apartment with a gun as my grandpa and dad tried to disarm him. My aunt hid in the hallway and I cowered behind my grandma as I tried to make sense of all the yelling, violence and terror. I was 3 years old. The other earliest memory is of my first stepmother slapping me, hard, across my face right as my dad came home. I saw the rage take over and the next thing I knew, he was chasing her with a knife threatening to kill her.
I have survived abuse of all kinds. I survived bullying. I survived three suicide attempts, including a coma and multiple organ failures. Hell, I even survived sexual assault at the hands of a co-worker at a former workplace. This body and mind have gone through more in my short 25 years than you ever will. But man oh man is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a kick-in-the-ass, especially when you already struggle with C-PTSD and dissociate on the regular. So imagine my rage to have survived all that only to have you be the one that nearly destroyed me.
Insignificant, trifling you.
I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 5 years old. It may seem very stereotypical Korean of me to say that, but it’s what I wanted to be then and what I’m considering now. I want to help people, save lives, do something that matters, whether that’s through medicine, politics, academia or whatever else. But the thing is doctors, and most of the other career paths I’m considering, need to be on their feet a lot. They have to be on the go, working and doing. But how is someone with nerve pain, who can barely walk a mile without it leaving me absolutely exhausted for the next week, supposed to do that? How am I, a former straight-A student who was academically dismissed because I couldn’t leave the apartment without having panic attacks and breaking down completely, supposed to finish over a decade of schooling? How am I possibly supposed to do all that? And what if… what if I never can?
You get to go on with your life after all this. I mean you did so with all the other people you raped. You just deleted your entire presence from social media so that you could seamlessly go troll for other victims on Tinder or whatever other dating apps. So clearly, you are just fantastic, living your life to the fullest with zero care. But what about me? What about the rest of the lives you’ve ruined? When do we get to move on? When do we get to live life to the fullest? When do we get even a morsel of justice?
You told me that night you had a younger sister. A sister who also struggled with depression, suicidality and self-harm. Now, I don’t know if that was just a lie you told to try to get laid, but I truly hope if she is real, that she never has to face a heartless monster like you. A monster that raped a girl five months after she came out of a coma. A girl who just barely miraculously survived two severe suicide attempts. A girl who sat on his loveseat crying. A monster that manipulated then serially raped young, vulnerable women. A monster that tried to scare a victim into silence by siccing a defamation lawyer on them for their online outcry. A monster that stole what should have been a pleasurable, consensual moment. That is the piece of shit human being you are.
I hate you more than you’ll ever know and some of the damage done to me may just very well be permanent. But you know what? Despite what you’ve done, you are nothing more than the overture to my healing and I don’t owe you, the pain or the trauma you’ve inflicted any space to exist within me any longer.
A year, or even half a year ago, a yoga instructor pressing me about my rape and subsequent disability in front of a full class might have pushed me over the edge. I might not have had the cool to exit the room and go to the locker room to cry after being triggered and harassed. But three years after the fact, I am able to remove myself from situations like these to decompress and find healthier ways to cope. It took blood, sweat, tears, panic attacks, eating disorder relapses, countless hours of treatment, many medications, electroconvulsive-shock therapy (ECT), hospitalizations and a strong support system to get here. Nevertheless, here I am: healing.
So goodbye and fuck you.
Signed sincerely with hate and confidence,
The Girl You Raped
Original artwork by contributor