Dating After Sexual Assault

Dating...well, it’s complicated. It’s complicated even in the most, for lack of a better term, “normal,” situations. But, as one may expect, I’m not the most “normal” kind of girl. Skipping all the dirty details, I’d like to acknowledge that, yes, I was sexually assaulted in a previous relationship. And for those of you who don’t believe that such a thing as sexual assault can occur in a relationship, well, I hate to break it to you, but unfortunately, you’re wrong.

Yes folks, I was raped. I know it’s taboo to talk about in such an open forum, but I want to be the voice for those of you who cannot do the same; for the record, just because you haven’t come out about your trauma does not mean that you are any less of a person. I admire you. Which is why I’m telling this story. To remind you in your darkest hours that you are not alone.

After experiencing an unimaginable amount of emotional and sexual abuse, I didn’t think that I was worthy as a human being, let alone worthy enough to date. I felt damaged. I could barely stand myself and it didn’t help that I was afraid to reach out to anyone, not even my parents. It took me months to reach out to friend and after that, things got crazy.

As a teenager would do, I began acting out, doing things that I’m not necessarily proud of, and putting myself at risk. I kept looking for something to fix me, for someone to fix me. That-- that mindset-- is what hindered me from moving forward. I was looking in all the wrong places.

It took me a while, but after about six months of struggling, I realized I was worth more than that. I could help myself; I was not damaged goods. I wish I could pinpoint an exact moment when all this happened, but, unfortunately, I cannot. I just, felt it. From that point on, I started working on myself in other areas; I began hanging out with friends, eating healthier, coloring, even running (and trust me, that means something coming from a girl who hates exercise). The simple things that we take for granted, those things are what made me look up at the sun again.

Soon after I started focusing on myself, I was lucky enough to meet someone that cared for me more than any other man had before. I was scared at first. I wasn’t planning on dating; I didn’t know if I was emotionally ready or if I was even capable of being loved. But, as it turned out, I was. Correction: I am. This man, the love of my life, helped me through some of the hardest moments that I have ever faced. The moments that I didn’t believe I could breathe through--those moments-- he was there.

It took me a while to tell him what had happened in my past, but once I did, he didn’t even flinch. He looked at me, paused for a moment, and held me, and just like that, he continued talking about a television show we had been watching. And that was one of the most empowering moments in our relationship. He didn’t treat me as if I was broken, but he cared for me when I felt like I was... and he still does to this day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you need to find a significant other to fix all your emotional traumas or that having one will make your pain go away. I’m just saying that after I learned to love myself again, a man walked into my life and saw me for the woman I was before the assault, and then saw me for the woman I am now; instead of running or treating me as if I was about to break, he simply loved me. Nothing more. Nothing less. He treated me (and still does), as if I was extraordinarily ordinary.

I was raped. I grieved. I learned to love myself. Then, I found a man that loved me in spite of all these things.

Dating. It’s as simple as that.