ending my silence
Over this summer I realized that I had been assaulted by my ex of 3 years about 2 years ago. My journey of realizing this was set off by the fact that I work for a rape crisis center. It is almost as if the universe put me into my current role in order for me to accept what had happened to me. After about a year of working at the center, I began feeling very uneasy and unsettled about a certain experience with my ex; I became haunted by this memory and had pushed it somewhere deep inside me until it ultimately sprung back up like a mushroom in the rain during this summer. I have had previous traumatic sexual experiences but this one felt even worse. I think what is making it feel worse is the fact that I told my ex at the time of the assault that I felt as if he assaulted me and he denied it. I held onto that denial as an attempt to shield myself from the reality, gravity and pain of this situation. I held onto this denial until I couldn't any longer. I knew what had happened was sexual assault except I didn't want to know; I wanted to forget it all, except it continued to happen. I continued to get assaulted and violated by my ex continuously. Dissociating through every experience, being woken up at 3 am after attending school and work that day, hating myself and my body for not being able to say no despite my body pleading for me to say it, despite my body experiencing physical pain, I couldn't say no. So much guilt came from wanting to say no and after every experience. I remember looking up at the ceiling and begging in my head for it to stop; looking at the clock and thinking I only had to hang in there for 5 more minutes. Preparing myself each night we would be together despite not having any desire to do anything. At some point I began to believe I was asexual due to my little to no desire for sexual experiences or attraction. Except I am not asexual, but rather my body and mind were unable to experience any sexual attraction for the person that continuously assaulted me. All of these details are painfully carved into my brain and yet I couldn't accept what I had been experiencing for the last year and a half of my relationship was assault. I know I probably sound a bit hard on myself right now but I am no longer upset at myself. Working at the crisis center has naturally made me a much more empathetic person (empathy is necessary/essential for the job) and has allowed me to extend that empathy to myself. In learning more about consent and hearing experiences from other survivors at work, I was finally able to recognize what had happened to me as assault; although I recognized what happened to me wasn't okay, I still continued to bury it deep inside me. And even before I was able to get to that point, I danced around the my assault by referring to it as the "situation" or "experience" and after hearing my therapist refer to what had happen to as assault, I felt such severe heart ache and pain; especially since I already knew. I knew deep down what had happened to me wasn't okay. Even with my knowledge and experience in this field, I still couldn't label what had happened to me as assault. While I am glad I have been working towards acceptance, I still feel so much pain, grief, anger and sadness all of the time. I finally brought all of this up to my therapist for the first time during this summer. She was the first person I ever told. And ever since I told her, there hasn't been a day that I don't think about my assault. This week in particular it has been much harder to end the rumination. This week in particular I am experiencing more pain and heart ache. I hate that I know it will take me a really long time to heal from this and the possibility that I may never heal from it. But I want to heal from this. I need to heal from this. I deserve to heal from this. I deserve peace and safety. It upsets me greatly to relive the pain of being silenced, which is why I am writing this. Which is why I am sharing this. I hope whoever read this or got to the end of this knows that you are not alone and whatever may have happened to you, it is not your fault. Sending love and healing to those that need it. Sending love and healing to myself.
4 months later
update- healing is ongoing, message to my 21 year old
I am feeling my grief a little harder today. The past couple of months my healing has felt more gentle and all of a sudden my mind got flooded with many feelings, thoughts and memories. I luckily was able to catch myself in that moment and talk to that part of me that wants to be heard; I let her know I would talk with her and allow her to share and express herself however she desired. I proceeded with my day and flash forward I am hanging out with my partner, watching youtube, anime, cuddling and being silly. We initiated an intimate moment when all of a sudden I became very triggered. My body began to remember previous experiences and I quickly covered myself underneath the covers. I began hyperventilating and my partner immediately began to comfort me. I felt so scared in that moment and ashamed to have stopped it that way. It wasn't my partner's fault nor was it my fault. Although I still felt so bad and guilty. It's how I felt and I am upset that's my reaction to myself. I am here to tell myself that I am so proud of you. I am so proud of you for sticking up for your body. I am so proud of you for respecting your boundaries. I am so proud of you for listening to me when I asked you to stop. I am so proud of you for getting up to this point. And for all the other points we are yet to reach. Your 21 year old self would thank you; as a matter of fact she already did thank you! I have been thinking about that 21 year old version of myself a lot recently. I think about everything she went through and had to endure. I think about how lonely it felt. How painful it felt. How confusing it all was. I think about her to remind her that she is loved; and that if she cannot feel other's love for her, to remind her that I love her. I love her so much and I carry her with me every single day of my life. I will never forget that version of myself. I will never forget the pain I had to endure. I will honor that pain for the rest of my life. You didn't go through that pain for nothing; because that pain doesn't define us at all. It doesn't define us at all. Our love defines us, that pain is a reminder of my love for you and how I will hold you at every level and ounce of that pain. I cut my hair just so that you didn't have to live with hair that was touched by him ever again. I will never let him hurt you or get near you ever. I will protect you for the rest of my life because I love you, because I am you. Do not feel ashamed for having boundaries and respecting said boundaries, listen to your body and listen to yourself. The thought that I originally had in mind was the fact that my abuser/ex-boyfriend was also the first person I ever had sex with. That also brought a lot of pain and grief to my soul. It brings me a lot of pain realizing that sex with my ex was very painful and traumatic from the very start. I deserve to have safe, consensual, respectful, pleasurable sex. And he can no longer dictate that aspect of my life ever again. If I am being honest I fucking hate him. I hate him so fucking much. I feel so much pain and anguish and hope I never encounter him ever again. I feel so much rage. And I also recognized that all that rage is both fear and sadness. It makes me incredibly sad remembering he ever had all that power over me. It makes me even more terribly sad realizing I was so oblivious in that lifetime; I don't blame myself but it is very painful having so many painful memories with a person I dated for 3 years. It all just makes me feel so sad. I know he no longer holds that power over me but even the memories just haunt me. And what haunts me even more is the idea that my ex will probably never hear any of this; I don't know if knows what he did to me is assault, even despite telling him. I have no idea. It brings me deep anguish knowing he does not think about my assault probably at all. I have no idea. I am able to ground myself in the fact that I am in a loving, safe, healthy relationship now with my beautiful partner. Thank you for holding me, thank you for making me feel safe, thank you for your patience, thank you for everything my love. Your love brings me peace. It brings balance to my soul. You bring love and safety to my 21 year old self and she couldn't thank you enough. This update was a bit all over the place but it couldn't being anymore raw and authentic because it is absolutely how I feel. If anybody read this at all, thank you for listening. And absolutely thank you to myself for allowing us to express our emotions and feelings in such a raw way. Healing is ongoing and will continue to be and that is okay. The pain is also apart of the healing journey.