Trigger Waring: Sexual Assault
When I was little, I always wanted to be a writer.
Writing helped me through some difficult times. As the stress of adulting started to build and bills needed to be paid, I left that passion behind me. I highly regret that because during some of the most chaotic years of my childhood and adolescence, it was how I dealt with the traumatic events that had seeped into my world. It helped me filter and understand my emotions, and it was therapeutic. These past few years, when I needed this tool the most, confronting a piece of paper with a pen would send me into a spiral.
Last year, I learned April is Sexual Assault Awareness month.
I was sitting in my flat during the first confinement, confronting being alone and digesting what I knew to be true. I finally had no noise from the outside world controlling my narrative. For months on end, my therapist and I had talked about how writing was a good outlet for me to confront what had happened to me, since in the past it had always helped me. But anytime I picked up that pen, a few sentences in, I found myself exhausted and frustrated. Learning what April meant, I took it as a homework assignment I needed to write, giving myself a due date. It helped me in a sense to confront it while at the same time, being separated from it. A journalistic piece I felt I needed to write, so to say.
A year ago, I published something I believed would help me regain my voice. I also didn’t know what the consequences from posting such a thing would be. I had, for two years, been living in fear of what people would say and if they would believe me.
I had never confronted my rapist, yet I knew people we knew in common would read it.
I was terrified.
Then, messages started to sound off on my phone.
“Didn’t want to just ‘scroll along’ without letting you know I deeply admire your courage to share it…”
“… just know that you’re not alone and though we don’t live near I am here for you!”
“… si algún día necesitas de mi, siempre podrás contar con mi ayuda.”
“Parce que trouver la force de raconter le traumatisme enduré nécessite une capacité de résilience incroyable.”
Friends that I had grown distant from started to understand certain actions of mine and messaged me. They told me they believed me and were here for me. “Je te crois Veronica, je te crois de tout mon coeur.”
I don’t know how many times I cried that week. I also don’t know how many times I have re-read those messages.
When I first realized what had happened to me and slowly started sharing it with my most trusted, I had had close people in my inner circle tell me that they didn’t believe me. If those I trusted the most couldn’t believe me, how could anyone else?
There was a reason for my binge eating and my panic attacks. There was a reason for my depression and my suicidal thoughts. There was a reason when people I trusted with my life touched me, hugged me and kissed me that my body would tense up. There was a reason I no longer felt comfortable in my trusted friend’s presence… because he was my rapist.
As a survivor, our world can really change once we have people in our corner who believe us and listen to us. Those messages, those long walks with the endless discussions, talking about it outside of an office helped me regain the courage and confidence in myself. It helped me trust my memories again and start rebuilding myself up. They say it takes a village to raise children, but I also believe it takes a village to help others. When I take into account how many people have been there for me this past year… I realize I wouldn’t be the woman that I am, the wit, the sarcasm, the fun, the strength and so forth, without them.
“It is how you live with it and what you do with what happened to you that will define you.”
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