I Can't Handle That I Was Raped And It's Haunting Me

I Can't Handle That I Was Raped And It's Haunting Me

Lately, things have been hard.
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Lately, things have been hard.

I don't know why or what changed, but I feel like my past is haunting me. Every thought I have goes back to me being raped. It's like no matter how hard I try, I can't let it go.

The odd thing is that I was fine. I didn't feel much about what happened unless it was near the time of year, or something reminded me of him. Maybe I repressed it all this time. Maybe I was in such a denial that it's finally hitting me. I don't know, but it's haunting me. I literally can't stop thinking about it and it follows me, everywhere I go.

I'm not thinking about it in an "oh, that thing that happened once," but rather it creeps into my mind in the most unexpected of moments, forcing all other thoughts from my mind. It takes the happiness away and brings pain. It takes all the good with it's cold, ghostly fingers and only leaves panic in its place.

I'm a pretty private person, so I never really told anyone except my boyfriend, the person I trust the most. Though I told him, I never went into detail (who'd want to hear about that) and I think I need to go into detail. I think it's catching up to me and I can't let it go anymore. I can't tell myself "it's fine, it's over" or "don't think about it, it doesn't bother you" because those lies are what got me to this point and now I need help.

Ignoring what happened no matter how much I want to, isn't the answer. Instead, I need to work through it, even if the first step is telling someone.

I know my fear is that if I say it - out loud - then it really, truly, irrevocably happened. There is no gong back or denial, but rather facing him and admitting that it happened, so that I can finally move away from it.

I can never forget or let it go, but I can learn to handle it better.

That starts with telling someone, from beginning to end, what happened. It also starts with me admitting that I'm not doing well. I'm not handling it well. I began to have bad thoughts again and be self-destructive, but in recognizing that I can stop myself before it gets too far.

It starts with me saying I need help and I'm getting bad again. It's not just thoughts, but touches that are haunting me. I feel it creep up on me like a ghost hell bent on getting its notice. It warps my mind, allowing the coldness to leak into my heart, turning it to ice. It looks me in the eyes as tears stream down my face, silent and haunting.

It's the look in my eyes that I see when looking in the mirror. It's the look of pain and knowledge that you can't escape and wish away. It's the quiet in my mind that allows echoes of the past to move into the forefront. It's my shirt moving over my head, reminding me of him. It's the hands that brush my skin, causing fear to steal my breath and the fear that my own hands are his.

The ghost is me. And I need to deal with it. I need to tell someone and get help so that I can be better again. I want to be better again. And getting better starts with admitting there is a problem.

My name is Cat. I was raped. I'm not handling it well anymore and I need help. I need to get better, even if that means facing the worst thing to ever happen to me.

If you were sexually assaulted or raped and need help, please contact 800.656.HOPE

Cover Image Credit: Zach Guinta / Unsplash

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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18 Things that Every Polish American Will Understand

If you're 100% Polish you know these are all true

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Growing up as a Polish American there are some things that are just so true because we have all experienced them. By not being totally American and not being totally Polish, we get the best of both worlds. From Polish school to Jan Pawel II, these are just some of the identifiers that we grew up with.

1. Saturdays are for Polish school

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Whether you want to go or not isn't up to you. This made Friday night sleepovers nonexistent for basically your whole childhood and preteenhood. Forget doing anything fun on Fridays because you ALWAYS had to wake up early and finish doing last week's homework.

2. Your friends never understood your parents’ accent

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All your non Polish friends are guilty of the smile and nod when being asked anything by your parents.

3. Every summer you went to Poland to visit your family

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Nothing like flying LOT airlines the day after school ends to see your family. Every year you meet a new aunt or uncle or family friend you never met before (where do they seem to spawn from?!). Everyone is always excited to see you because you're coming from America.

4. You know your mushrooms

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If you've spent a summer in Poland, chances are you went mushroom picking. You always had that uncle that would tell you that muchomory are poisonous, so just take a picture but do not touch.

5. Babcia taught you how to make pierogi

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Babcia is always cooking but teaching you to make pierogi is a sacred rite of passage because even though you live in America, you cannot forget you are Polish. After a few hours, you have enough pierogi to feed a small army and dinner to last the next few days.

6. Communism

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Somehow this is a topic that always comes up during family dinners… or when you want something and get a lecture how your parents didn't have anything during communism.

7. You know your Disco Polo

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You do not know how people still listen to this but whenever it comes on you sing all the words to it.

8. Babcia will keep feeding you because you are never full in her eyes

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9. You have your American friends and then you have your Polish friends

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Not everyone in your school is Polish so naturally you have your American friends that just do not get your Polish parents or why you have to go to Polish school. Regardless, having two groups of friends is awesome because some there are some things that your American friends will just never get if they're not Polish.

10. Krowki are life and you always have a secret stash of them somewhere

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11. Everyone has a picture of pope John Paul II in their house

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Are you even Polish if you do not have a picture of the Polish pope in your house?

12. Whenever someone mentions Poland in school or public you immediately begin to pay attention

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"Yes I'm Polish"

13. Translating things from Polish to English is sometimes challenging

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Sometimes Polish words do not translate to English the same way. For example, why is stuffed cabbage called pigeon? Why is a chocolate dipped marshmallow called bird's milk? We have so many questions...

14. Just because your Polish everyone assumes you’re a raging alcoholic

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I mean, they are not entirely wrong because vodka almost sounds the same as the Polish word for water. Coincidence? I think not.

15. Just like Saturdays are for Polish school, Sundays are for church

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As a Polish American youth, you do not have the luxury of sleeping in on weekends because you either have Polish school or church. And God forbid you are late to either, wstyd.

16. Everyone has the same leather kapcie

Image: KAPCIE GÓRALSKIE SKÓRZANE DAMSKIE LACZKI SKÓRA 38 7304975839 ...

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You do not know where they come from or how they make a size for everyone, but you always have to wear them because if you walk barefoot on the floor, you will get pneumonia.

17. You speak Polish whenever you’re in public but want to talk about someone

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Whether you're at Home Goods with mama and you see someone you used to know and start gossiping about them, or you're with your Polish friends and you're talking about your crush who just happened to walk in, Polish comes in handy.

18. Your mom is always cleaning

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You are not allowed to be in the room she just cleaned because she literally vacuumed everything including the cat and the picture frames. The living room is for show, not for living!!!!

Regardless of everything, you would not change being Polish for anything.

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