How I Chose to Live as a Rape Survivor

By Marissa Whited

Content Warning: This article also contains mention of suicidal ideation. 

There’s this quiet moment after you've been raped, as you lay there on the floor. This moment between what’s real or not real. Was I actually raped? Did this happen to me? It’s after that moment that it hits you, that certainty that slaps you in the face that this is your life now. For most women and men, that moment only happens to you once in a lifetime, but if you're unlucky that moment could happen twice. I was unluckily someone who's had this moment twice now. When I was thirteen years old, my best friend's older brother raped me against my will, and when I was twenty years old a coworker raped me again.

I hardly remember what it was like to live in a world when I hadn’t had been raped. When I sleep, I remember it over and over every night and every morning when I wake, it hits me again. The moments that followed my first rape left me  feelingshame, guilt and confusion. I was thirteen, and I barely understood what sex was let alone what rape was. I went to Catholic school for seven years, so sex wasn’t in my vocabulary, and neither was rape. I didn’t know how to deal with it, or what to say or who to tell. But the first person I did tell was the mother of the man who raped me. She said her son would never do that, that I was liar and a slut. She told me to keep my mouth shut and pretty much threated me. I was thirteen years old, and I was scared and terrified. Because of this woman, I shut myself down. I was self-destructive. I started drinking, arguing with my mom and not paying attention in school. I was having nightmares and panic attacks and I didn’t understand why. 

But I moved forward. I tried to figure things out, and move on with my life. Sure, the panic attacks lessened and lessened, but the nightmares increased. They changed forms as well. My nightmares are shapeshifters in forms that paralyze me in my sleep. But I forced myself forward, and though it wasn’t easy, I was fortunate to find help. When I was seventeen, I started taking anxiety medicine and that all changed. I was able to be alone with my male teachers without panicking so hard that I would pass out. As I got out of high school and started college, things were looking up. 

As soon as I put myself together, fate had other plans for me. The second time I was raped I was twenty, and I was drinking with a coworker. I said no, but he didn’t listen to me. The second time broke me in ways that I didn’t know was possible. I couldn’t hold anything together anymore. Everything in me was broken. I couldn’t hold anything together anymore; my emotions spun out of control. Everything made me cry, everything inside me hurt. Nothing made sense anymore. All I knew was that I didn’t want to feel like this anymore. The pain, guilt and shame was to overwhelming. I wanted to die. I wasn’t suicidal and I'm still not but I wanted to die. At night, I would pray that I wouldn’t wake up, and in the morning when I did, I would cry. When I walked to school I would hope a car will hit me. I was the living dead. There were moments where I would lay awake at night and think about the ways I could kill myself.

But in the end, I couldn’t go through with it. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m strong enough not to, or if I was too weak to do it. Forcing myself to live was hard, but I gave myself goals and that helped. I knew I wanted to travel and see Paris. I knew that if I killed myself I would never go, or have a family of my own. It’s been almost two years since my second rape, and I'm better now. I'm healing more and more every day. I don’t want to die anymore, but I’m not ready to live one hundred percent either. I'm a work in progress. It hasn’t been easy for me, but I’m making it work. I’m working toward being the person I want to be, and trying to help others as well. I want to make a difference not just in my life, but for others. 

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