The Many Reactions To My Sexual Assault

There are many reactions you receive when you tell someone you’re a survivor of sexual assault but the most common are pity and doubt. When I tell the details of my story those who pitied me stop saying sorry and start telling me how lucky I am and those who doubted me believe that I must be lying. 

“You’re so lucky that you don’t remember!”

“How can you say you were raped if you don’t even remember it?”

Over the last six years I’ve been questioned by people that mean well and people that don’t but the one thing they have in common is the belief that it is somehow easier for me than any other survivor because I don’t remember much of it. In the days, weeks and months following my assault I told, and was told, many different versions of what happened that night. It wasn’t until a year and half and many hours of exhausting exposure and cognitive behavioural therapy later that I came to know everything that I would know about that night. Memories that I had repressed have returned but there are still holes in which memories were not made. They don’t exist and they never will and people see those holes as either a blessing or proof that I’m lying. 

To those that think this is a blessing, I can’t begin to tell you how wrong you are. I understand where you’re coming from and I appreciate that you want it to be true for my sake but the unknown is a terrible place to live. Hate and fear and anger are emotions that are difficult to deal with when you have something or someone to hate or fear or be angry at so how could they possibly be easier to deal with when that thing or person is unknown? When the object of these feelings is unknown they do not just go away, they linger and weigh on you until the thing that you become angry with and hate and fear is yourself. It comes through in fits of rage over unorganized dishes, a shadowy figure that visits me at night and not recognizing my own face when I see it in the mirror as well as many other strange and unsettling symptoms that pop up without reason or warning. 

The unknown is awful but the things that I do know haunt me every day. To know that there was a time in my life that my body existed solely for the pleasure of someone else is haunting. I feel betrayed by my own being and disgusted by the sight of it knowing that I did not get to choose who used it. Because that is how I feel: used. Taken by force and against my will. 

Now I am caught somewhere between the known and the unknown. Trying to find comfort in each and accepting what will never be known and never be forgotten. 

- Lauren