Content Warning: The following post was written for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Though it isn’t graphic in nature, not does it provide any specific details, the topic alone can be triggering enough. With that in mind, please tread lightly before reading on, and if ay any point you feel uneasy, I wont be offended if you stop reading.
I realize it’s been a while since I thought about being raped. I’m sure most people don’t think about it even… at all but for me, I have had periods of time where I thought about it every day. Not only that, but thinking about being raped was the thing that put me to sleep at night.
Now, I sound a little wonky I’m sure. I am not a sadist or a masochist, I’m just someone who has been raped. I could call myself a victim or a survivor, but neither of those feel true as I write this. I have no identifying label other than a person, who has experienced something. I was raped.
I’ve lived in California for over two years now. The assault happened before I moved. Back then, I would lay down ready for sleep and run through different scenarios of what I’d do if I was ever assaulted again. It was practical and vulnerable; my chance to redo everything. Even though there were painful feelings attached as I would allow myself to re-experience a part of the trauma, there was peace in knowing my revamped scenario allowed for less “what if’s” and for more healing. In all of my scenarios I reported the assault immediately, I was around people who were validating and supporting, but most importantly, I allowed myself space to have feelings. Laying in bed at night my mind became a safe haven for the broken part of myself that never got to really feel the feelings attached with experiencing such violation. I gave myself permission to feel and be broken in ways that I would never let myself otherwise. I was providing a way for myself to heal from the inside.
It got to the point where if I couldn’t sleep, I knew allowing myself to think about one of my scenarios would fast track my mind into sleep. It was almost a thing of comfort- which makes sense because I was providing myself comfort in ways I hadn’t received, and in ways I could only imagine.
This pattern of thoughts before sleep persisted until after I moved. I grew into a place of accepting it as a way of healing instead of judging or shaming myself for being so weird. Eventually the pattern lessened. If I was recently triggered by something it might return but never lasted as long as it had prior. Eventually, I got to a place where I didn’t even realize I was able to go to sleep without thinking about it.
My girlfriend and I were in bed when she randomly tells me that she would fuck someone up if they hurt me. I chuckled. That’s when I realized, it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about being raped. Sure it comes up often in my awake hours, but for something that was such a staple in my routine and ability to fall asleep, it’s been a while. And I find that to be a marker in my journey- a place where I can see how far I’ve come. I don’t know that there will be a time when I’m completely unaffected by what happened, but with each marker I’m able to put down, I’m seeing that I can heal and move past the events in a way in which they affect me less.