New Year. New Personal Challenge.

Jan02_healingFor the last ten years, I’ve wanted to share about personal experiences in the hopes of helping others. I’ve struggled with how to frame my words, my stories, etc. But part of my resolutions for 2016 is that I will do something scary each day.

So each post I can do on this topic will be a step in bravery for me. A step into vulnerability by choice. And I am choosing this to help open some of my “closets” to further free myself and dismantle some of the shame that not only lies within myself but most likely in others.

I am talking about acquaintance rape.

Let me first clarify that I do not use date rape. Dates are supposed to be fun, possibly romantic encounters. And whether yours began that way or not, the person you were with turned into someone you hardly knew and that is an acquaintance, not a date. I also find this helps in making a healing mind shift to separate these horrific actions from something that is positive and exciting.

Watching the news the last few years and conducting Google searches where I see little in terms of helping survivors learn how to heal and receive some comfort (there are a lot of places to tell your story), I decided no more hiding out, no more holding back for fear of judgment.

It has been 25 years since I was acquaintance raped in my residential hall. Freshman year. I was acquaintance raped a second time my senior year.

My desire is to tell the truths I know from one older survivor to another newer one. To share some of the techniques I’ve used when memory flashes happen.

So here’s my first truths: Like the loss of a loved one, you will never stop remembering. Getting over the incident or past it or beyond it does not happen. It’s been 25 years and there are still moments that trigger me. Tears still happen now and again. And then I usually get mad. Mad because I’ve tried so many ways to be “100% healed.” Shouldn’t this be done by now? I think to myself. The past year, I’ve worked to released that expectation. Like the quote for today, I am not going to war with myself anymore. It’s cliché but I am enough and I am okay even if I’ve been broken a couple of times. I am still here and so are you.

This is a big thing that happened. We lost part of us – while we gained, I believe, a stronger version of ourselves, we did lose the person we would have been without the experience of misjudgment and being forced physically to do something.

I look at the acquaintance rape survival process much like the grieving stages.
Acceptance – with small bouts of the last four occurring periodically.

We need to go through the stages. To stay in denial or anger, does nothing for our own life. And that’s what I’m concerned about. It’s great to be brave and share your story – I’ve shared mine many times. But that sharing does little to help me in a moment, when I see or hear my rapist’s name (it was a very general name so it happens much more than I’d like!). I usually shudder impulsively, then take a deep breath, tell myself “you’re okay, you’re here now” and move on to whatever.

So enough for today. I feel I’ve taken a first good step on this journey.

Much love and light to you if you are hurting right now. I truly understand. Feel free to send me a comment – I approve before they are posted so they will be private.

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