“Somebody almost ran off with all of my stuff
And I was standing there looking at myself the whole time
It was a spirit that ran off with my stuff
It was a man whose ego won’t drown like road ants shadow
It was a man faster than my innocence
I see you hiding my laugh and how
I sit with my leg open sometimes to get my crutch some sunlight
This is some delicate leg and whimsical kiss
I gotta have to get to my choice
So, you can’t have me unless I give me away”
– Ntozake Shange
I never thought I’d ever be able to talk about my story and for such a long time I was ashamed to call it my story. Some days I want to crawl out of my body so I don’t have to feel the way I feel in it sometimes. I don’t even know what to call it because I have shoved it in the back of my mind. I have hidden it so far back that even I have difficulty trying to remember it. I am writing this whiles crying because this is my truth and my truth still hurts me. It still brings me pain and it makes my hands shake but I will continue to write my truth and hopefully let it set me free. Firstly, for those who don’t know what sexual assault is – Unlike rape, sexual assault does not involve penetration. Sexual assault is a sexual act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will, or non-consensual sexual touching of a person.
I can still remember how it all happened, and how my world came tumbling down in just a few minutes of being taken from myself. 4 June 2016, my entire self was stolen from my inner thighs as I was pinned down. I want to say I fought with every fiber within me but now I’m not so sure anymore. If it really was every fiber, why couldn’t I stop it from happening then? Since then I have struggled with understanding why my “NO” was not enough. I have struggled with why my tears did not cry me an ocean deep enough to drown in it. You see, the feeling of being violated, the feeling of having someone use their power to take something that you did not offer – this feeling is incomparable. I was sober as a judge when it happened, and every single moment was engraved into the walls of my mind. I can tell you how the room smelt, how he smelt, how he was dressed and even how he moved. All of it is engraved in my mind and sometimes I stay awake at night because I want to forget. I want to fall asleep and wake up with no memory of it. But I cannot forget, and I no longer want to forget because it is my truth. It took me a long time to come to this truth and therefore I will embrace it. I told a friend of mine and she said “It could have been worse”, as if what had happened was normal and I should have expected worse. That was my worst, having someone hover over me and forcefully take me is the worst thing that could have happened. After getting this response I didn’t tell anyone else about it. It ate me inside and it gave sleepless nights (literally). I found myself playing it out in my head and trying to think of ways I could have stopped it. I went into a deep state of depression and anxiety that no one knew about. See, the thing about depression is that you feel like you are in an ocean and everybody else around you can swim except you. You’re the only one drowning and no one else can see it. I was drowning and I wanted my friends and family to see it but they were busy swimming.
Needless to say, I am able to write about this because I got the help I needed from a professional therapist and the support that I needed from my family when I eventually had to tell them. I stopped drowning and I started to swim, or at least float at the time. It wasn’t my fault, and I didn’t ask for it. I know that now and you should know that too. I know I didn’t deserve that pain and trauma, and neither did you. No woman or girl is worthy of this struggle. Sexual assault is a complete and utter violation of ones’ rights and consent. If you say “NO”, at any point in time – you should be heard and to be respected for your decision. Don’t allow anyone to take away your voice and your power to fight against what you are not willing to do. No matter how much you have said you wanted it, when you say “NO” you are putting a full stop to everything that has been said before that moment and that is irrelevant to the current situation. What you are wearing does not matter and where you are with whom is not the problem either. Each of us have the right to consensual sexual activity and it is up to each of us to remind the other person that we have this right and that the violation thereof is a crime. Even with that said, I am still in the healing process. I am still finding it in my heart to forgive the person who did this to me and I am in the process of forgiving myself. I sometimes wake up happy and content and other days I wear my pain on my face so the world can see that I am not in the mood to be happy. I don’t want any man or boy touching me, even if it’s a warm embrace or hug – I still cringe. It takes every part of me to hug people of the opposite sex and not feel like I’m betraying myself. I don’t want to engage in a lot of physical contact and my body still shames itself for the experience. I do not feel safe anywhere with anyone. I am abnormally jumpy and reactive to any contact that I have no initiated. I can say that I am bruised, I am hurt and I am broken. However, every day I apply self-love and acceptance to rebuild what has been broken and to heal that which has been hurt and bruised. I have family and friends who remind of how much they love me and how much I matter. They do not see me the way I see myself, to them I am whole and without defect and to God I am perfect and newly made.
I felt that I had every right to be angry and bitter because of what had happened to me and what he did to me. But holding onto bitterness and anger did more harm to me than the original incident. I refused to forgive but I was the one hurting. As i allowed myself to feel it, I started to heal it as well. I let go of a prisoner only to find that the prisoner was me. And in the words of Wayne Dyer “I have the inner capacity and connection to God to heal anything”
KADAN – (n) “where the heart lies”, an all-purpose word for a person one cares about, including friends, family and loved ones.
Featured image by Theodysseyonline.com