!!! WARNING: CONTENT MAY ME TRIGGERING TO SOME AUDIENCES
READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED !!!
I lost my favorite jacket that night. But I lost a lot more than just that.
I didn’t know when I was going out that night it would be the last night I would feel safe in my own body. I didn’t know that it would take years for me to regain a sense of self and begin to unpack the trauma that occurred. I didn’t know a secret was about to form that would isolate me away from my friends and family. I didn’t know the secret would cause me to act In a way that caused havoc to myself and those around me. I didn’t know the depths of despair the “not knowing” could bring.
For a long time I thought it was my fault. There are still many days when I believe that I could have done many things differently and “if only I did this or that” things may have turned out gone another way. Even with the years I still find myself shaking away the visions from that night. I find myself remembering blurry scenes and phrases and thinking I'm either going crazy or if my subconscious is trying to help me put the pieces together. I was sexually assaulted that night. The events afterwards are forever seared into my memory.
I woke up hurting. I work up feeling utterly awful. But I woke up in my own bed. I remember right away crying for I knew something had happened but I couldn’t remember the details. I remember showering and rocking back and forth as my dark make up ran down my face. I remember feeling like a small step above garbage as I sat on my bed and dialed the sexual assault hotline. My voice shaky and embarrassed; I was told “I shouldn’t have showered, there’s no evidence now, all you can do is report it.” I remember getting dressed and biking to a local office and sitting in a room as I waited to talk to a police officer. I remember feeling like a liar, a fake, a fraud as I told her what I could remember. “Were you drinking?” She asked. “Yes, I had three drinks, but I couldn’t remember anything, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t talk.” I responded. Her eyes a mix of sadness and frustration. I was making her do a lot of paperwork and she didn’t seem happy. What I remember most is the feelings I had during that time. I felt unsafe, unheard and powerless. My information was taken and she said “we’ll see what we can do” and left.
Are you sure you didn’t want it? You showed him attention, you must have just been drunk and not remembered anything. These were the comments I heard from people I told.. But my memory doesn’t deceive me.
I remember saying “no” I remember his hand cupping my mouth as I tried to speak up, letting my roommates know that I was in my room alone with someone I didn’t want to be with.
I remember him closing the door, locking it.
This is not the signal of a girl who “wants it.”
As time has passed I have lived with the fact that society has a negative outlook on women who have survived sexual assault because it doesn’t always happen in a back alleyway. Sometimes it is subtle and the perpetrator can slip away without a trace. The police questioned the guy who’s work place I remembered. “He said he didn’t do anything.” Case closed.
I never found that jacket, and I still struggle with my mind, my value and my power. But I'm not ashamed to tell my story anymore.