Diary of sexual assault:
I am 5 years old. My friend likes to touch my private parts. I think it feels good? Kind of. I also feel icky and confused. I think it’s wrong. I think I might get in trouble if I tell what he is doing. What we are doing? Am I participating too because I like it? I think I like it? Does that make me bad too? Is it bad?
I am in kindergarten. “Does he like me? I want him to like me.”
I am 7 years old. This memory didn't surface easily like the other ones. It took years to come back. My underwear is pulled down to my ankles. I am bent over. My friends older brother- maybe 12 or 14 years old- is behind me. I feel violated and accepted. Like I pleased the cool kid. Later I am on his lap, again no underwear. Again I am accepted. Because I let it happen.
I am in 7th grade. Shop class. My teacher puts his hand on my thigh. I feel sick. And special. Maybe if he was hot. He’s not.
I am a sophomore. Or maybe a junior in high school. I’m not sure. It’s broken. This memory is broken. I don’t know where I am. It’s at a house I don’t recognize. Who am I with? I don’t know. I’m not safe. I can feel it. Then it’s black.
I am a junior. I love him. I trust him. He makes me feel safe and loved. He’s kind. And soft. We are making out in his closet. Then he pushes my head down. I am confused at first. I don’t know what he’s doing. Then I understand. He pushes into my mouth. His hands are holding me there. I want to vomit. But later, he still makes me laugh.
I am 24. I am on a business trip. I’m his massage therapist. I know his wife and his 4 year old son. We had a beautiful family dinner together. Later, I finish the massage. He grabs me and pulls me down on top of him. I think it’s just a hug at first, so I hug him back. Then his arm goes around my neck and locks my head in place. He starts kissing my neck. I try to push away. I can’t move my head. It's starting to hurt. He slides his hand up my shirt. I shove away, hard. His eyes are dead. There is no soul behind them. He asks menacingly “What’s wrong?” I am shocked and terrified. Did that just happen?!! I tell him “I'm tired. I need to go to bed.” I can’t piss him off. I know what he is capable of. He buys me a fancy breakfast the next morning and pays me double for the massage. I want to throw up.
I am 25. I am intoxicated and with a friend. Yes, I will have another drink. I feel numb. I feel good. I am married to a man who just told me he had been having an emotional affair. Our entire marriage. But it’s ok. Because I’m drunk. Everything is ok. But not that. I tell him to stop touching me. He does. For a second. I tell him to stop again. I don’t really care though. I don’t have any fire left in me. I don’t want to leave. I enjoy his company. I just don’t want him to keep touching me. I say “no” 40-50 times that night. He doesn’t stop. It wasn’t violent. It didn’t hurt. Eventually I give up. What am I saying no for anyway?
I didn’t tell anyone what happened after that last assault. In fact, I didn’t really know if he did anything wrong. Until months later, when I told my husband about it.
“So he raped you.” was my husband’s response.
“No. Wait. What? No. I just didn’t have the strength to say "no" enough. I didn’t leave. I wanted to hang out with him. I just didn’t have the power to stop him.” I said.
“So he raped you. He forced himself on you after you already said no. 50 times. That’s rape, Heidi.”
That one is still sometimes hard for me to talk about.
After a girl has been defiled, one term we use to describe it is, "She's lost her innocence." Is it any wonder then why women feel so guilty after they are raped? If I'm no longer innocent, What is left then, but to feel as though I am somehow to blame?
After I was raped, I kept feeling like I needed to apologize.
For not being good enough.
For not knowing what to do.
For not realizing that what was happening was, in fact, rape.
For not wanting to use such an ugly term to describe it.
For using the term at all.
For being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
For "allowing" it to happen.
For not being able to push him off of me even after I told him to stop, over and over and over.
We have this image of rape as being violent and by someone we don’t like or know. 85% of women who have been sexually assaulted know their assailant. This “assailant” word makes it sound so cut off and like we are referring to “that man” in jail who I had never seen in my life.
This is simply not the case for the majority. For me, the “assailant” was my friends older brother, who I played with on a regular basis. My teacher who taught in a safe school. My boyfriend who loved me, laughed with me, and genuinely cared for me. My client who took me to dinner with his wife and child. My good friend who had too much to drink.
Sexual Violation is laced so heavy with shame, it makes it difficult to talk about. Almost taboo.
But the paradox is, it isn't until you surrender into the pain and the fear that you realize what you thought was a terrifying monster, is actually a terrified little child who needs desperately to know that regardless of what has been done to them, they are loved and lovable. That no matter how much pain they suffer, there is healing. That they are, have always been, and will always be worthy of love, comfort, affection, belonging and honor. That they have infinite value that can never and will never change.
That's when the light starts to soften. And wounds begin to heal. When we are willing to talk about it.