Letter to the Stanford Survivor

Dear Sister,

Thank you. As I patiently wait for my case to unfold, reading your statement has given me renewed hope. I knew I  had a voice, I knew I could tell my story. What I doubted was whether I had the strength to face the future. Would I survive whatever the defense will throw at me, I work in Sexual Assault now and I know what they say. I know what they do.

You have shown me through your penned eloquence that yes, I can and will survive. I can make a statement, tell my story to the one person I most fear. I will do it and I will make my voice, my experience, our collective experience heard.

You and I have had the same nights, the sleeplessness, every single lamp turned on and every door locked two, three times. Make it a fourth just to be sure. Wanting to tell your story but not wanting to tell it at the same time. Not knowing whether you could face another day of crying, of utter despair for your personal losses. The days where you stop and look at the sky in absolute awe, realizing that you are lucky to have made it to another sunny day. We cry tears not only for ourselves but for those that weren’t so lucky, how close we came to being a part of that statistic.

We have been tasked by the universe to champion our fellow survivors, to send out the call that we will no longer tolerate rape culture, we will no longer accept alcohol as a “motivating” factor, we will no longer stand for the lack of accountability. We must use our strength to let our voices be heard, to be strong for those who are lost in that darkness.

Know that you are strong, beautiful, worthy and exceptional. You are my idol and will be my strength as my case progresses. We are united in our fight and survival. I will forever be grateful for you.

All of my best wishes and deepest thanks for you.

Love,

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image credit: ethosmagazine.org

Reflecting on Fear and Strength

I have strayed pretty far from my original intent of regaining control of my physical health since my last post. I guess we’re always hopeful in the beginning but I lacked the long lasting determination. I have gotten myself somewhat back on track despite some stressors as of late. I think I need to take it slow and focus on establishing a healthy routine for now.

As a forewarning, this post may contain triggers.

Lately there have been some pretty heavy developments in my case. Great developments but they’re the kind that bring up all of those initial feelings. The fear being the most present. I know what happened to me. I know that I was raped. I have acknowledged my losses in personal security, gains in paranoia, diminished confidence and increase in overall unsteady feelings. I know I am a survivor…not a victim. I have power over my circumstances, not the other way around….but why am I still terrified on a daily basis?

There are moments when I am so scared that I cannot get out of my car at night to make the short walk up the stairs to my apartment. What am I afraid of? That he has found me and is watching me, waiting, plotting some sort of retribution for being reported. That somehow I am at more risk now than I was before, that it will happen again, that I might be killed for telling. These are real thoughts that I have and they are rattling. Rape does that to you, it makes you question all of your surroundings. Even makes you check behind the shower curtain or the closet door twice because you’re not sure if no one is there.

My nightmares are coming back, they’re worse than before and they haunt me the entire day following. Nightmares filled with demented, disgusting, degrading and paralytic scenes no human should ever witness or dream of.

There are two sex offenders in my community that have gained attention recently. One has been arrested for a recent offense but he wasn’t arrested in the woods where I’m sure most people thought he’d be hiding, no. He was a block away from where I work. Now, I don’t know this man and I am not his victim. Still, being a survivor and finding out that on any number of mornings or afternoons on my walks to and from the office, I could have encountered a known offender…it’s unsettling to say the least. The other offender cannot be arrested because he has not committed an offense as of late, only attempted to lure women from the main drag. Clearly the intent being to re-offend. I have upped my measures of personal protection but what if I can’t react in time? I definitely couldn’t outrun an adult male, I can scream but what if nothing comes out? These are things that most people don’t consider on a daily basis.

I can’t pass a male stranger on the street without holding my breath and hoping that I make it far enough away that I’m safe. I don’t have any issues with the males known to me that I have established relationships with (friends, family, etc.). It’s the strangers, the unknown that causes so much turmoil.

All of this is to say that just because I’m a year and 8 months out doesn’t mean that I’m completely healed. It will take years to work through and process all of the damage. Even the simplest of things will bring it all back. Thankfully, I am not alone. I have an incredible support system and a world of fellow survivors. I was strong before this happened and my strength was not diminished because of it. I am not stronger because of it, I am stronger because of who I am as a person, I am stronger because of the people who have continuously supported me, I am stronger because of the millions of people that face the same battle.

If you or someone you know have/has been raped and are seeking help please call the RAINN hotline at 800.656.4673 . Help is available 24/7 and healing is possible.

#FreeKesha #RAINN #NCCASA #NoMore #ItsOnUs #SurvivorStory #TilItHappensToYou