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Seeking Closure: Surviving to Thriving

Trigger Warning: This story contains a personal account of rape and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We believe that this is an important story to share as it shows the reality from the point of view of a rape survivor. Please be respectful to the author’s work.

 

I was raped when I was 15. My rapist was younger than me, and a girl, so many people would think she’d be incapable of raping me.

She ordered me around and I was scared so I listened to her every word. I never said yes.

This is enough for it to be rape. Never saying yes makes it rape.

Now it is 4 years since it has happened. I’m a sophomore in college, and I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have flashbacks to being in that chair. I can’t look at her face without thinking of what she’s done to me. Thankfully I can only see pictures of her if I seek them out, as she doesn’t go to school with me.

Recovery is a struggle. I spent so long denying the sexual abuse she did to me. I knew she was emotionally abusive, but figured I was just making up the sexual abuse feelings I had.

But then it hit me.

She had been gaslighting me.

Gaslighting is an abuse tactic in which the abuser makes the abused person feel like they’re making everything up, like it’s not as bad as they think. She would lie to me, tell me things I did to her that I didn’t do. She tried to convince me I was the bad one, that I was the one who hurt her.

As she spoke to me, I thought, “I never did that.” But she’s an abuser, and convinced me that maybe I had.

I hadn’t. Of course I hadn’t. But it took years to unlearn that shit.

She still haunts me. She’s in my dreams, she’s in my day to day life. I close my eyes and I can see her, forcing my pants off. I can see the things she used to scare me because she found it funny to see me scared.

We slept in the living room at her house, and she would make me sleep next to the front door because she was scared, even though I was scared too. No taking turns each night, I had to do it. Now I’m terrified of being in my dorm room on my own.

The biggest thing I managed to unlearn was fearing her name. I was really into Harry Potter during the early years of my recovery, and I remember the line “Fear of the name increases the fear of the thing itself.” I didn’t want to have panic attacks whenever I heard her name, which was common, so I associated her with something else. I called her Voldemort. My abuser was Voldemort, and now I can handle a common name without panic attacks.

I don’t think I’ll ever get closure. I cannot contact her without worrying about my own mental health. I’ll never know why she did what she did to me. I’ll never know if she’ll continue hurting others. I hope her future partners break up with her before they get hurt too. Or maybe it was just me, the unlucky one. This is the closest thing I can get to closure: writing down what has happened to me and reaching out to those who can relate to what I am going through. I know now I’m not alone, that this isn’t a deep dark secret I should hide. I should be careful sharing this information, sure, but I’m not dirty or broken for having been raped.

Recovery isn’t an easy road. There’s twist, turns, ups, downs, and bumps. Will I ever be fully okay? Probably not. It’s hard to think about sex with my boyfriend without being scared he’ll do the same thing to me. Am I better than I was? Absolutely.

To all my friends out there suffering from the same trauma I’ve been through, I say to you: Your responses to your experience are valid. You’re good. You didn’t deserve what happened to you. And I hope you can grow to heal.

 

If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual or domestic violence, please reach out for help. 

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Jace Williams is nonbinary and really loves bunnies. You can find them screaming over the book "The Secret History."
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