Life After Rape

Life After Rape

What its really like moving forward.
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It all starts the next day, you sit in a windowless medical office, while a lovely, empathetic woman with glistening eyes listens as you tell your story- or what you were told since you can’t remember one moment of it.

The worst part for me was my mom crying softly next to me… my whole life my mission was to make my parents happy, make them proud of how strong I was. Watching them like that is crushing. So I sat there with no tears, feeling completely numb. It sounds cliche and detached but that’s really what it’s like, you just feel nothing. The air around you almost seems still as death as you patiently wait for the next steps of reliving the nightmare you feel like you couldn’t have even experienced.

I sat there emotionless as they took pictures of my bloody knees and scanned my clothes with blacklights - the same clothes I’d come to in, inside out and on backwards. I didn’t have my underwear though, that had been torn off by one of the four.

I waited as they examined my whole body,felt nothing as they told me about the damage to even the inside of my body.

I listened and laughed along with my rapists as they called me a “slut” and a “whore” and told me that I came onto them. I apologized to them because I had embarrassed them. Even my bloody legs, torn body, ripped clothing and voided memory couldn’t save me from the shame.

I told myself I would be fine, reassured my family I would be fine. Lied to myself that I was fine because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 21 years it’s that no matter what happens, the world keeps turning and there are millions of people around you still living life. You have to just put your head down and keep moving.

So I tried to go to therapy, but told them nothing other than “I’m doing really well, I’m sleeping and eating no problem”. We would talk about my “feelings” and I would say exactly what she wanted to hear. So I stopped going after maybe 3 sessions. Another thing I’ve learned is that anyone who works for a university is very sensitive about the girl who cried “rape” so they treat you like a lost puppy, make you feel like there’s no reason to keep coming in for therapy, they even encouraged me to get a medical clearance on my classes so I didn’t have to finish off the year.

They didn’t know me well enough to know that having a purpose was the only thing that kept me going. In high school I was a merit scholar, an AP student and an avid reader so my intelligence was one thing I thought could save me.

That was until I didn’t even have enough energy to make it to classes. I would roll over to my alarm going off and immediately shut it down and go back to sleep.

And then the drinking started. Obviously being at a University makes this commonplace, but not as an every-night situation. I would sleep all day and spend my nights nearly always blacked out, downing vodka like it was water because it was easier to feel nothing than feel like I had been violated. It was easier to black everything out because I felt like people liked me that way, that I was fun and outgoing and the life of the party. It made me feel like despite the fact that four individuals had raped me while I was nearly unconscious, no one would judge me if I could party along with them.

The drinking also helped the nightmares go away. My therapist now says these nightmares happen from PTSD. That, even though my conscious state wasn’t active during the assault, my subconscious knew what was happening. So the nightmares came, me remembering how I was fighting back, how much it hurt. Little glimpses into what happened.

The worst part was the sex. As a woman, a large part of what you are is made up by how men view you. No that's not the feminist stance but this story isn’t about some superfluous understanding of feminism it's about truth. I wanted guys to find me attractive even though I had been damaged. No one knew what happened but I started using sex and the hookup culture to make myself feel more validated.

So I would get myself to a state where I could be ballsy enough to find some guy and make him believe I was the hottest thing he’d ever seen. Each next morning I would wake up, dreading the memory of each stupid decision I would make.

The worst part was seeing my friends judgement. They didn’t know the whole story by any means, I was far too proud to tell anyone. All they knew was something really bad had happened. They started making small comments that slowly tear you apart, even though they don’t mean to.

One friend, after a particularly awful night for me said “Do you realize what you did? This thing has ruined you”.

Another friend, when talking about a cute guy I was interested at the time said “Maddi, be careful, he's a really nice guy”. Implying he was too good for me. I know she didn't mean it like that, but it's hard to hear something out loud that you think about every day. I knew they were maybe right.

So I reached a breaking point and it all came crashing down on me. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by friends and family that supported me and since I have been spending a lot of time in therapy, growing stronger each day.

I decided to finally write all this down because unless you go through something like this you have no idea what it's like and it’s easy to pass on judgement. I know people look at me as what I’ve been called: slut, whore, drunk mess. I am sorry for all the people in my life who saw me like that, and I hope I can eventually be forgiven.

One thing I’d also like people to understand is that, much like an addiction, this is something I will likely have to battle with for a long time. The behavior I used to cope is still inherent in me and sometimes I take 3 steps forward and one step back. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes I don’t feel worthy of people’s love or attention. I don’t feel pretty, or sexy or kind- I feel ashamed.

I wanted to tell my story, not only to shed light to my friends, family and anyone in my life who may not know… but to help others understand what this is like. It is so easy to judge people for their actions, for what they do and what you see. Remember that everyone has demons, that we are all in different stages of a journey and that the greatest thing you can offer is kindness.

For me, I have grown so much, some days I struggle, but each day I know time continues to heal. To anyone else out there going through this, know you are not alone, and that this hasn’t ruined you, you can still be loved and cherished and that you deserve all happiness that comes to your life.
Cover Image Credit: Blogspot

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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To The Girl Who Wants A Change

First of all, you're beautiful and girl, I relate.

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Every person on this planet has thought about what they would do if they could change something about their appearance. It may just be me, but there seems to be this stage of depression where you look yourself in the mirror and don't want to be you. You want that bright colored hair if yours is dark. You want your nails done and your makeup on point. You want to have the body type and looks to wear that one outfit you've had your eye on but just can't pull off.

You become almost overconcerned and overly-conscious about how people see you and how your image is projected upon the world.

Honestly, when you get to this point, there's really no going back. Some people are very skeptical of changing things when in this stage of itching for something new. They believe that as soon as it's done that you're going to regret what you've done and now you're gonna hate yourself even more.

My advice is that if this action that you want to do isn't going to hurt you or anyone else, why not? Put some thought into what you're doing and then go for it. Color your hair purple, make your nails into those claws you've loved for so long. Get a tattoo. Although, you might want to think absolutely thoroughly on that last one.

It sucks to live in a society where you feel like you're constantly being scrutinized and just aren't able to do the things you want to. Maybe you're too scared of the outcome. A little nervous. Maybe you grew up with people telling you to stay natural and not do that thing that you want because your body is a temple and you shouldn't disgrace it.

Even temples have murals, sweetheart.

Nobody can tell you how to live. No one can tell you how to look. Never be afraid of change just because someone else wants you to be. Never be afraid to express yourself because people have silenced your voice. Speak loud, proud, and often and you'll be just fine.

And hey, even if you do get your nails done a new way, get your hair dyed or anything else, that isn't the end. You don't have to stick with it if you don't like it. Just find something you do like, something that makes you happy, and always pursue it.

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