When I published my first article, I was completely terrified. I knew so many people would immediately know who I was talking about and I feared there would be retaliation. Possibly from his friends or family. I knew I may lose some mutual friends if they chose to side with him. Even if they didn't, I knew it would cause awkward and strained friendships. And, I couldn't bear having mutual relationships. But, my fear was for nothing.
I was taken back by the overwhelming support that flooded my inbox when my first article hit facebook. Messages of love, and support, and personal stories are what I found. I was horrified at how many people from my hometown had similar experiences as me. I hated that so many were suffering like me, but I was also so proud. My articles inspired them to tell their stories, even if it was just to me. It brought me to tears. I felt like I was making a difference. My only dream as a writer is to inspire and help others through their difficult times. For the first time, I was seeing my dream become reality.
As far as friends went, no one took his side. Multiple friends said they'd never contact him again. One friend was disappointed to even be associated with him. They came to me with only love and understanding. I didn't find suspicion or doubt from any of them. They offered me their help and their apologies. I recently found out that his family saw my articles. I'm curious how they feel. Do they still support him or will they disown him? Do they believe my story or will they choose to ignore it? Will they put in on the back burner and just silently know they live with a rapist?
All I wanted was for the world to know what he is, to know my story. From there they can make their own judgments of him. I don't wish to see him in prison or punished, I just want people to know what he did to me. And, now, for the most part, they do. I will continue to share my story and experiences with the people who support me.
I have finally found a community. There are people who accept and love me despite my past. They believe me and they chose me over my rapist. So, this is to you. To the girls who shared their experiences, to the friends who chose me, to the family who promises to fight for me. To the social medalist who shared all my articles across multiple platforms. Even to his family and friends who may be confused and struggling with their image of him. This is for everyone who stands beside me through this all. I couldn't thank you enough. We all have healing to do and a long road ahead of us, but now we all know, none of us walk alone.