Monday, June 05, 2006

Afterlife

My particular experience was unique: no two assaults are the same. I am not alone in having been assaulted. I know there are men and women all around me every day who have been affected personally and secondarily by sexual assault.
Two weeks after my rape, when I picked up my last paycheck, a waitress whom I had mutually befriended told me she had been raped five years previously. Five years! At the time, I was counting off every day one by one- one more day's distance, one more day survived. I was so impressed at her five year mark that it became my goal. If she could survive five years and seem so normal, I could too. Now I've doubled that and it no longer marks my calender.
It's been a long journey.
I went to counseling the summer after my December rape. I cried through my first visit and often during subsequent visits. Some days I just didn't want to deal with it, didn't want to live it or go through the anger and fear. Sometimes I just cried and cried for the person inside he had killed, the me I would never be again. Sometimes I burst into tears in the middle of a store. What right did he have! I could scream and scream and beat him in my mind, bite chunks out of him and how I wanted to- I wrote often in a journal, and kept a pad of paper with me at all times never knowing when the need to write it out might strike. Still I had scraps of paper stuffed in books, notes made of brown shopping bags, receipts taped together end to end.
I dreamt of him sometimes and woke up panicked. Other days I would spend all morning puzzling over my inexplicable anxiety to remember by noon him haunting my dreams the night before.
It was embarrassing and frightening telling my parents. They still don't know the details. My dad was furious and wanted to go to Pennsylvania with a gun. My mom is certain I brought it on myself by living there and she didn't feel it was appropriate to tell the rest of our family.
These days I think of telling them but wonder if my own relief is worth what pain or discomfort I might cause.
I don't know what it is like for anyone else. For me it's been hard. It isn't over but every time I face it down I heal a little. For me hearing the stories of others, reading the stories of others, was reassuring. Just to know there were others who had been there and healed, others who would understand.

7 comments:

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TJ said...

I was raped my sophomore year of college. It was not a violent-it was date rape. I am sorry that you experienced something so terrible. I wish you luck on dealing with it. Just remember-you are still alive and that is the important thing. If you continue to allow it to bother you-are you really living?

Jennifer said...

I'm also a survivor, though mine was child molestation, and it was by a family friend. He convinced me we weren't doing anything bad. I was only 10, he was in his teens. I can't say that it was tramatic, but the 20+ years that followed, men continuously took advantage of me. I thought if I gave myself freely, no one could take it against my will anymore, or at least I'd be in control.. well, that's what I told myself. It wasn't until my early thirties I realized the power I actually do have and had all along. I'm sure you know the saying, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger".. I no longer used men or sex to validate my worth. And suddenly my standards and self-respect were up to a level that it brought me a wonderful man.. a husband, a friend, a confidant and respect! So, Karen.. if you can have self-worth and self-respect, you will accomplish anything. You ARE a survivor and that in itself is worth more than you know.

Thanks for reading and commenting at my blog. A lot of your words remind me of whats in my head. I'm an instant fan.

Heels said...

I am so very sorry, Karen. Your strength shows here.

SonSon said...

A thousand thoughts are flowing through my head. I was 13 when I was raped. (that word still hurts me to say though not quite as much now, do you feel that too?) I didn't acknowledge the truth about what happened until I was 16, blaming myself or simply not facing it instead.

Still to this day it's not something many people know about me. I wonder, if we were able to be more open about it how many of "us" we would meet.

Thanks for blogging a portion of your feelings about your experience. I've been thinking of writing about my assault as well. It's such a long story though.

I can feel your pain about your mother. For some, the easiest way to accept something painful is not to accept it at all.

Sending you a cyber hand squeeze.