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He got off me as his obnoxious groans subsided.

I couldn’t help but feel soiled, damaged, and worthless. I felt out of my body, and this vessel I looked down at didn’t look like mine. It looked broken.

I’ve been alone in this world before, but I have never felt lonelier than the day I was violated.

I was raped.

For us who’ve had to utter these three words, we know that it feels like stepping into a tunnel of perpetual darkness with no end. I knew that by acknowledging these three words, I could no longer pretend that it didn’t happen.

For a long time, I struggled to fall asleep alone at night without the lights on. Nightmares of being manhandled and touched were frequent. Sometimes, I found myself awake till the sun came up because of sheer fear. The sun rays provided the warmth of comfort, and I only fell asleep when I could see sunlight streaming through my curtains.

For three whole months, I went to bed at six in the morning, but I could never sleep for more than three hours.

I began to avoid open spaces, big crowds, coming home late at night, and hanging out with my friends. My panic attacks got out of hand, and soon I was all alone. I even panicked in my sleep. Anytime I tried to face my fears, I could only think of how powerless I was. I didn’t feel ready to know what I have become.

I remembered the few times I tried opening up to a friend.

I was told: “At least you weren't killed.”

But I wished I was.

I wished he murdered me.

God knows I wished I was dead so I didn’t have to deal with this pain and fear.

To me, as violent as rape was, the same brutality was prescribed to me when the people I loved and trusted tried to silence me with their inability to comprehend my pain. They came from a good place, but all I needed was a warm hug and a listening ear. I didn’t need a pep talk, or advice. I just wanted to be loved.

My life may have been spared, but the core of my being was left scarred forever. The violence didn’t end... even after being raped.

I nearly gave up processing my pain. 

But I am thankful for friends who stayed with me and held space for me. My heart couldn’t have survived in the spaces that I used to be in. These friends carved a space for me that never existed before, and allowed me the time to come to terms with my pain on my own.

It wasn’t easy.

It took me a year to open up again… 

I still find myself shaking with tears each time I finish my story. My heart still pounds, and my memory gets scattered each time I share. Even though I feel heavy knots of discomfort in my stomach, I found my voice growing stronger.

With each wave of grief, I was met with greater waves of grace from the community who held me and cried with me. It wasn't the well-intentioned words that healed me, but it was the gift of their time that birthed newfound courage in me. 

Soon enough... I started to embrace myself again. 

I started to show up - authentically. I decided that I was not going to run away from the pain, but acknowledge it for what it is and allow myself to feel every miserable stab that the memory gives me. 

Today, I still suffer from PTSD. Yet, I am also healing with everyday that passes.

If you are on a healing journey with someone who has been raped, grace them with the gift of your presence. Simply be with them, cry with them, and get comfortable in the silences that follow. Offer constructive help only when asked to. 

Everyone heals differently - the road to survivorship is not one-size-fits-all. At times, it may feel like you’re hugging shards of glass. Yet, it is such love - a love that embraces tightly, despite the pain, that brings forth healing.

And finally, to you, girls and boys, the walking wounded like me, I wrote this for you.

When I look to you, I see gardens of wildflowers - beautiful and resilient. I see the brightest lights atop sky-scraping hills guiding the lost and the last home. I see strength in vulnerability.

You are worthy and so deserving of love. Your trauma does not make you any lesser. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I believe you. When you feel alone in this, remember that I am fighting alongside with you.

I want you to know that I am with you. You are still worthy. You are still valuable and still so loved. Thank you for breathing. Thank you for fighting this good fight of faith. Thank you for still hoping.

I just want you to know that you are never alone.

Published on 07/02/2021

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