My name isn’t important and I’m not ready to have people look at me like I’m broken. I am not ready for the judgement.
If you look to the left or the right of you – I could be any of the women sitting next to you. I could look perfectly normal, I could look as though I am falling apart. The truth is you may never know that the woman next to you was assaulted.
There are 7 people in the world who know what happened to me.
I can’t forget what happened to me.
There hasn’t been a night in the past 3 years where I haven’t fallen asleep and seen his face staring back at me. There hasn’t been a night where I haven’t woken up several times, thinking that I heard a noise, that he’s somehow made his way to where I am. There hasn’t been a night where I haven’t felt his hands around my neck, pressing harder with every second that passed – ensuring that I would be unable to scream.
But I didn’t even try to scream. There was no one around. I pleaded for him to stop – just kept uttering the words: “No… please no.”
And I kept repeating it, until the words were drowned out by the tears that I suddenly couldn’t even cry and the air that I was choking on. I just kept thinking I was anywhere but there.
Even those words fell silent after awhile. The realization of where I was – it seemed to fade. It was as if I was living in a nightmare that I was unable to wake up from.
It’s weird how you become void of emotion, and yet you feel everything at the same time. I just wanted to go home. I wanted to be in my bed. I wanted to not feel anything, because all I could feel was the life being pulled out of me.
I lost my mind, but put up walls to save myself from it.
There are 7 people in the world who know exactly what happened to me.
Sweet/Vicious is just a TV show. Right? It’s a scripted show on MTV that has opened a new conversation about rape. It’s a conversation that we needed to have. It’s a conversation that way too often we push under the rug – because we think it will never happen to us.
Because it’s not supposed to happen to anyone.
The truth is I never thought it would happen to me.
But it did.
Liz, one of our writers, covers Sweet/Vicious with such beauty and ease, that I decided I should watch the show. I could watch the show. I read articles about the way it empowers people, the way the conversations on there are so important.
The first episode took me close to 4 hours to watch. The second episode, the third… 2 hours. The fourth and the fifth… just an hour and a half. The sixth – I couldn’t finish. The sixth I stopped after Jules confronted her rapist. And I broke down in a puddle of tears – wanting to hug her and hold her and tell her I understood. That I was there for her.
The same way I wanted someone to be there for me.
And then when I got to Ophelia comforting her… I have never admired someone so much – because – it takes a lot to comfort someone when you don’t know the words to say. It takes a lot to comfort someone – when no amount of comfort will help.
The first person I told about my assault said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” There were no questions if I was okay, nothing. But the reality of the situation was, that there was nothing that she could have said that would have made anything better. There was nothing that could have taken away the anger, pain, and guilt that I was feeling.
The second person told me I must have misunderstood, because that doesn’t happen to girls like me. What kind of girl was that, I wondered. But I didn’t have to wonder long, because she explained. “Men rape women that they can’t have sex with, like 10’s.”
Had I misunderstood?
I analyzed every moment.
What had I worn? Leggings and a tunic with boots. Had I been suggestive? No, I was continuously rude. Had the rudeness be interpreted as flirting? Had I sat too close? Had I touched him in a way that would lead him to believe that I wanted him? Had I worn a perfume that was enticing to him? What had I done?
I’d never felt so alone.
Every 98 seconds another person experiences sexual assault. It doesn’t just happen to women. You don’t have to be “hot”, you don’t have to be drop dead gorgeous, it doesn’t matter what you are wearing, it doesn’t matter how you smell.
No means no.
Telling those first two people was terrifying. And it didn’t get any easier as I told other people what had happened to me.
I couldn’t be mad at Kennedy watching the show – her not wanting to listen or hear Jules’ truth. I don’t blame her. In a way, her world was turned upside down. Jules’ rape affected her life too. There was a person in my life who blamed herself – I had taken so long to tell her what happened that she wondered what she had done.
And it wasn’t about her. But the healing took time.
She didn’t know how to be there for me.
I didn’t know that I needed this show.
Sweet/Vicious triggers me. Watching it isn’t easy. I woke up last night, because I wanted to have as much courage as Jules did. I wanted to tell the man who destroyed my faith, my feelings, my level of being able to cope – just what he had done to me. I wanted him to feel the emptiness and pain that he had left me with.
And I can’t. Because I could never have the strength to be in the same room. I could never have the strength to be close enough to him to kick his ass. Fear will always live inside of me, but I know that I need to deal with that.
I pulled out a notepad and started to write down what I would say. I said everything that I needed to say. And for the first time in 3 years, I felt better.
I felt some peace. It was a foreign feeling, but it was there.
Sweet/Vicious is one of the most important shows on television nowadays. It’s hard to watch, sure. But it’s those moments – those few hours a week where I watch someone take their life back, that make me feel less alone. That make me feel as if it’s okay to move forward and heal.
Sweet/Vicious helps me move towards healing. There is no time frame on that. It’s done in moments.
And every week – I have another moment that moves me closer to little parts of me feeling again.
I may never remember the girl that I was before my rape. I think there will always be a part of me that misses her, but I have kind of forgotten who that girl was. I just know I will find the woman that I know I can be after it.
I will feel safe again.
I will feel alive again.
I will feel again.
All of these things involve control over my emotions. What he took from me was control. And it’s okay to take that back.