Today I told my story of being raped by a man I knew in college. Today I laid my soul bare to share the story of a moment in my life that has plagued me with feelings of unworthiness, uncleanliness, and of being unlovable. Today I spoke truth.
Today was scary. Today was vulnerable. Today was uncomfortable.
I didn’t expect to be called a slut and a whore for my post. I didn’t expect to be blamed for the choices a man made against my will. I didn’t expect to be told that I had it coming. The whole point of the post was that, no, in fact, I didn’t have it coming after all. I didn’t expect that truth to fall so flat on deaf ears.
I didn’t expect to care so little about someone else’s opinion of me. I didn’t expect the strength and undeniable resilience I felt deep in my core when I tested it against these insults. I didn’t expect to have a moment of trial and then to have a true, badass, warrior rise within me. I didn’t expect for this experience to underline that yes, I am okay, and what happened to me wasn’t. It’s not my fault. It’s his.
I wasn’t expecting to see my husband post in defense of me. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with him all over again by reading his words of morality and decency. I wasn’t expecting him to show up, care for me, and once again prove what a kind, decent, and deeply good man he is. I wasn’t expecting to have to hold back tears of gratitude when I think about the man he is and how he is raising our children and loving me for the rest of his days.
I definitely wasn’t expecting the validation from an old friend when I confided in her about my experience. I wasn’t expecting her to say that she understood me, that she heard me, and that she believed me. That is the most challenging and surprising part of my day. Someone who knows us both, my predator and me, and she believes me. I am beside myself with this revelation.
I wasn’t expecting her faith in me to give me a sense of validation I have never experienced before. Even as I wrote my piece on the assault, I didn’t think of myself as a victim. I still believed I deserved it. It seems I still had a lot to learn.
I didn’t expect to discover that I am safe in the knowledge that what happened to me was real and it was painful. I’m not a slut. I’m not a whore. I am a victim of rape regardless of anything that happened leading up to that point. He had no right to have sex with me without my consent. It’s.that.simple.
I wasn’t expecting the love and support I received from every corner of my life. I wasn’t expecting to feel proud of myself. I wasn’t expecting to be so deeply loved by the comments and kindness I received that I could literally hardly move. I wasn’t expecting any of that.
I wasn’t expecting today, but I am so grateful for it. I am grateful for the gift of validation, for discovering new love, for giving a voice to an issue so many of us have faced.
I am proud of the woman I have become. I am proud of the example I am setting for my sweet children. I am proud of finding my truth and having the courage to speak it out loud.
Thank you to everyone who supported me today. To those who don’t, believe me when I say your words have no effect on me. If anything, they have made me stronger and more resolute than even I knew I could be. So thank you for that gift of discovery. I am here. I am strong. And I will continue to rise up.
Give ‘Em Hell