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My letter to Aimee

I hope that you don't mind that I am typing this. Handwriting seems more personal, but I am likely to be overcome with emotion before I have finished this, and I don't want my words muddled by a faltering pen or smudged with tears.

In June of 1995 I was raped by a boy in my high school. I was 15 and he was at least 18. We knew each other before the assault, which is how he lured me out of my home late at night and convinced me that I would be safe "going for a walk" with him. He raped me on the playground of our elementary school.

Instead of telling my parents, the police, a friend, a teacher, a counselor, anyone, I buried the rape deep inside. I locked it away in a tiny box in my heart; where you keep things you don't ever want to think of again. He told people that we had consensual sex. Whenever I was tormented by my classmates, called a slut or a whore, I drove another nail through the lid of that box. I refused to let any emotion leak out; he could not hurt me again if I felt nothing.

I was silent about my rape for three years. During this time I was anorexic and suicidal and looking back on it, I'm not sure how I stayed alive. Maybe it was the hope that I would some day escape that town and the life that I wasn't living.

Finally, I broke - the words came pouring out to a friend, "He hurt me. He forced me. I said 'no.' Tell me this wasn't my fault." It had a name; there was a word that described my experience. Rape. At first I couldn't say it outloud. I referred to it as "what happened." I couldn't bring myself to associate myself with it in a sentence. I was raped. Facing it was just too overwhelming.

Over time I spoke more. My words became more coherent; there was less sobbing. I allowed myself to open the box. I examined its contents and took out the pieces I could handle at the time and dealt with them. I began writing about my rape on my website and to my amazement, people contacted me. People who had been raped and silenced like I had, who were putting the pieces of their lives back together, wrote to me and told me their stories. I was no longer alone.

It has now been almost five years since my rape. I am now in therapy, trying to recover myself. It is a daunting task, for rape is like smashing a vase - no matter how hard I try, I will never put the pieces back together the way they once were. Some don't fit and some have been lost. After five years, I am able to say, "it will get better." How long it will take, I don't know. But he will not win. I know that now.

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