Since my first article that I posted in August (7 Tips for the Friend of a Rape Survivorr), I have opened up a lot about being a rape survivor. The response that I received and the amazing support from those around me who had not known was overwhelming and deeply appreciated.
For most people who approach me, it's usually with hesitation, which I understand, because rape is never an easy topic to talk about. However, I am very open and willing to share. These are questions I answer most often and my feelings towards statements I receive. I can only speak from my own perspective, so I'm not speaking on behalf of all rape survivors out there.
*Disclaimer: I do go a bit more into detail about my personal story.
Wow. You're so strong.
As much as I appreciate this statement, some days it hurts. Most days, I do appreciate it because it reaffirms the strength I had to recover from my experiences. However, on rare occasions, it makes me feel like sh*t. If this statement were true, I would have been strong enough to stop my attackers, but I wasn't.
Why did you not report?
I have my reasons, just like anyone else who did not report may have. It has been 9 years since my first assault and 7 years since my second. The first time I was raped, I was barely conscious, so I don't have memories of what the person looked like. The second time, I blamed myself and was too embarrassed to tell anyone. Honestly, I was just too young to really know what to do besides just staying quiet.
Do you regret not reporting?
The first time I ever talked to anyone about what had happened to me was my junior year of high school, and by that time I figured it was too late. I wish I knew more and I wish I opened up to the right people, who could have offered me help. But I have no regrets. It's not something I would have wanted to go through and put my family through at that time. However, moving forward, I HIGHLY recommend reporting. You never know if those people will do what they did again, to other people.
How did you get over it?
Time and a lot of tears. It took me until this year (so almost a decade since my first assault) to finally "get over it". It's not something I will ever "get over", because it's something I'll never forget. So, I would say I have accepted it, learned from it and I'm finally able to move on.
Do people treat you differently after knowing?
I have been very lucky to have the people that I have in my life, because they have not treated me any differently. If anything, people understand me better because they know.
I admire you.
My response is usually, "thank you", but I honestly don't understand why. Everyone has a story about overcoming obstacles in their lives. I don't believe my story is more admirable than another's. I know plenty of people who have gone through worse things. I do not discount my own experience; however, it still makes me feel quite awkward to hear this.
How does your family feel?
Honestly, the majority of my family didn't know until I posted that first article. The only people I had told prior to posting was my sister and one of my aunts, even then I had only told them about two months before publishing it. I didn't know how to approach my family about what had happened. Initially, they were upset; however, after having a few emotional conversations with them, I was met with so much love and support.
Do you still blame yourself?
Yes. It becomes less and less frequent every day, thanks to the support system I have, but sometimes I do still blame myself for what had happened. Since I have been assaulted twice in my life, it's easy to think there is something wrong with me for that to have happened. However, I have to remind myself that the act of rape is all about the need for power by the rapist and it had nothing to do with my own actions.
How are you still open to dating after what happened?
I love love. I have always tried to look for the best in people, so I can't label all men as horrible rapists, because that's just not true. After accepting what has happened, I'm finally ready to just allow myself to be happy with someone. All I can do is hope that the people I date in the future are understanding and accepting.