Wednesday, January 19, 2005

20 / 20

Twenty years ago tonight, something happened to me that changed my life forever. Since I’m 40, that very neatly splits my life in half. I have the twenty years before and the twenty years after.

Right after it happened I tried to forget about it. It was a horrible thing, it hurt a lot and I knew that if I ever admitted that it happened, my life would completely fall apart. I was pretty good at the whole denial thing. I managed to keep it up for almost two years, but then it started creeping and nagging at me. The little bits that crept out eventually became whole memories. When the memories overwhelmed me, I had to admit that they were really mine.

Just as I predicted, my life fell apart. It felt like my whole self shattered into a million pieces. When I looked down at the shards of my former self scattered across the floor, nothing was familiar. The task of reconstruction and healing was monumental. Thankfully, I found people to help me. It still seemed to take years before I felt whole again.

A big part of my struggle was dealing with hurtful things that people said and did while I was recovering. Sometimes I wonder if those things didn’t hurt more than the event itself.

One of my closest friends told my sister that she thought I had made the whole thing up just to get attention.

Early on, when I didn’t know where to turn for help, I talked with our family minister. He told me that I needed to ask God to forgive me for what I had done.

A couple years later I over-heard a conversation between a close friend and my mother. My friend was telling my mother how much he enjoyed spending time with me. She told him that it was too bad he didn’t know me before the event because I was such a joy to be around then.

Maybe I was too sensitive. For a good long while, the daily task of breathing in and out all day long was almost more than I could bear. I really wasn’t in a position to handle confrontation, shame and criticism. I suppose I’m a bit protective of the wounded person that I was back then, so if I was overly sensitive, I allow myself that indulgence.

What I’ve learned over the past twenty years is that anyone who lives through the humiliating and degrading experience of Rape is a survivor. If another person has enough power and control to sexually assault you, they have enough power to take your life as well.

I was Raped. I survived. I’m glad now, but there was a time when the pain was so fierce, that I'd wished I hadn’t survived. I very rarely think about it now. It seems like it happened to someone else. In fact, you can barely see the scars any longer. During my 15 year career as a Social Worker, I worked with over 1,000 victims of sexual assault. It’s their pain I feel now.

Many victims of sexual assault struggle with problems related to sexuality for the remainder of their lives. For those of you who have been checking this blog regularly, you know that I am a strong advocate for healthy and positive sexuality. Perhaps my motivation comes from the fact that 20 years ago someone brutally stole my sexuality from me. However, I refuse to believe that the warm, passionate, enthusiastic woman I’ve become is the result of a rape. Those qualities, and my passion for sex, were simply nurtured back to life from a pile of brittle and unrecognizable shards because the one thing he couldn't take away was my capacity for love.

If someone you know is sexually assaulted, these are three simple things that you can say to help:

  1. I'm sorry that it happened.
  2. I'm glad you survived.
  3. It's not your fault.

12 Comments:

At 11:02 AM, Blogger John Q. Public said...

I'm sorry that it happened.
I'm glad you survived.
It's not your fault.

 
At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am sorry that it ever happened to you.
I am VERY glad you survived.
and It's NOT your fault..


My best to you...

Carol

 
At 12:36 PM, Blogger Chick said...

Theresa, you are an inspiration. Denial is a powerful thing. I'm glad you made yourself whole again.

I was almost raped 2 separate times (I wrote about one) & I've often thought if...or how I would have survived had the unthinkable happened.

Keep nurturing your soul...you hot chik.

 
At 12:51 PM, Blogger Goldfish Shoals said...

THERESA, YOU SEXY BITCH! I'm so glad you're still here and still you.

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger cricket said...

theresa, i'm so very sorry that it happened. i'm incredibly glad you survived. it's so definitely not your fault. **huge hugs**

 
At 6:41 PM, Blogger Ed said...

Theresa, you are rapidly becoming my heroine.

 
At 11:43 PM, Blogger Kay said...

Thanks, Theresa. I have been sexually assaulted but never raped. Even until I read your post I wasn't sure what anyone could have said to me that wasn't wrong. Now I know.

 
At 1:15 AM, Blogger theresa said...

Thanks everybody. You're all so extremely cool that I want to plant great big kisses all over your great big faces!

And Kayten, Dear Girl, what happened to you was wrong. I'm sorry it happened. Your survival spirit shines through in so many ways.

 
At 7:43 AM, Blogger Nightmare said...

When I become king of the planet, Rape and pedophila will move to the front line of acts that deserve death. No jail time, no long drawn out appeals, you touch you die. Very black and white, oh and it will be a public hanging, naked, just to add humiliation.

I'm sorry that it happened.
I'm glad you survived.
It's not your fault.

If I find the bastard he'll wish he was born without a penis.

 
At 9:22 AM, Blogger greenman said...

Sweetie,

you indeed are an inspiration in strength.

Thank you for surviving.

 
At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that it happened.
I'm glad you survived.
It's not your fault.

all the best. ((:

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Square1 said...

Glad I came to your site. Jay form Jay loves Kitti directed me here, I only wish I'd come sooner. I'm a survivor... working on being a liver.

http://gunsmokeandmirrors.blogspot.com

 

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