SURVIVING THE MEMORIES SITE FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

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MY AFTERMATH

There is beautiful life after sexual assault

Stronger by the Sugababes

"The privilege we have after experiencing severe trauma is that we get the chance to remake our lives; we can build beautiful structures, or we can huddle in the ashes. The choice is ours."

The very last time I wrote anything for myself, was when I wrote my story. I keep thinking and thinking, what is my aftermath and what exactly should I write? It came to me, every single day of my life is my aftermath. Ever single panic attack, flashback, painful memory, day I get up and continue to pull through is my aftermath. Healing from rape for me has been one of the hardest things. It effects everything in your life, it changes how you see and do things, it changes how you see yourself while making you wonder if it all is truly worth it.

From the end of my story at realizing what had happened to me, I quit the job that I had, left all the friends that I thought were true ones. I put myself into a period of being alone without a job, I hated it and sometimes fought against it to only get into the same situation once again. I became extremely promiscuous to the point of embarrassment until I chose the time to stop and really analyze the situations I kept putting myself in.

When I was younger before I was raped I always felt boring, I felt like one of those people that couldn't keep someone's attention for all that long because I never had any amazing or scary stories to tell. Now I have far too many, I'd like to return all of them because they are still not stories that one would want to share. When I have decided to share what happened to me I went from hearing it was my fault, to believing it. I went from wanting to die, to trying to. I kept having very bad responses and I felt so alone, like for wanting to have a story to share about anything, that the want became this. Something so terrible that noone would ever want to hear about.
 
Through time I began to hate being alone, even if I could never have someone sit next to me in comfort I just needed someone to know. I told another friend about me, she found it to be very upsetting but failed one night when she invalidated my whole situation while comparing it to the movie "Accused." Our friendship slowly declined, I had few words to say to her. We never went away from each other badly, we just stopped looking for each other and talking. It happens.
 
When I confided into this friend I decided that the feeling that I got from telling her was just not good, so I held it in for a little longer. The very first year and half after my rape was very hard. The pain I felt every single day, I never ever thought it would ease up and leave me, I felt doomed to a wish that I once dreamed for to getting this hell.
 
On the outside besides being a bit sad, I didn't show it. I figured if I didn't show it then for others it wasn't there, I was just me, not some girl who was raped and couldn't get through it. I left work again for another 9 months to slowly seeing my selfworth. Though many times I backtracked, I kept getting up each day and trying to survive. To not knowing and not understanding any of this, I never thought of reaching out for help. I never thought that maybe I should go to a therapist, when I did think of it it made me feel even more alone. Like I was the loser who couldn't handle it. Speaking to a stranger about what I went through to me sounded like something only a super woman or man could do, not little me. So I passed on that thought and kept on trying, I finally went back to work to a job that I still as of today reside in.
 
I went into that job fresh, I wanted more for myself and I thought that I deserved recognition for all the hard work I put forth. I worked hard at everything given to me, any job I could do it.....I had to. Every emotion that I had whether it be sadness, anger, loniness I took with me every single day just because I knew that through determination I could draw strength from it and be seen as how I always wanted to be seen without all the bad.
 
I began to become very comfortable here, I was promoted to a very high standing job, I was responsible for everything and many operations of the company. For being able to work to this point from where I had been I decided to step out again, maybe this time I could find somebody that could atleast understand. Never did I imagine that I would find somebody that could relate.
 
Both of my parents are survivors from their childhood, but to me they have always been just Mom and Dad not my parents the survivors so around them in a way it is just not the same. I just kept looking.
 
Soon into this new position I began to feel total comfort being around this one worker, like without speaking and without knowing I felt related to. Through time I decided and undecided if I should tell her and how I should go about it. I, one night emailed her my website, for me it was the only way. Other times that I vocalized what had happened to me I had been deeply burned and scorned, I can't do that again or for now I am not ready.
 
I felt empowered when I shared it, but that soon shrunk away to complete and total fear......I wished I could take it back. I emailed this person my worries, didn't hear from her and began fretting their possible feelings of hate for me and not towards what happend to me.
 
A few days later I once again saw this person at work, I avoided eye contact and being near them at all costs until they so gallantly approached me on their own when I was stuck and not able to get by them. They told me that they had gotten an email from me, I remember it taking my breath away, I remember looking away and finding one object to stare at while not looking again at them. I felt humiliated and just wishing I was not there. She told me to look at her, I barely able to until she touched my face......she told me she understood and that I wasn't alone.
 
That was the very first time anyone had ever said that to me, she told me that she was a survivor of sexual abuse as a child and had undergone therapy for it, and as of now had felt better in her life. But to hear someone tell me that they understood was amazing, I remember repeating our conversation in my head for the rest of the night. We are as of today still good friends, it has been a few years now. When I see her I feel like I have another survivor in front of me that recognizes me as the same yet still sees me for who I am. It's a completely different feeling than seeing a friend who knows nothing about you. I felt more complete, like I had half way found myself and wasn't as lost as I had once believed.
 
I became bold and started sharing again, found the people I felt most comfortable with and just shared. A few found it to be hard to swallow but they supported me, one of them has a very hard time discussing it now and will in her own way brush me off.....I've decided to not go into too much detail with her anymore, I found that sometimes some stuff with those that just don't understand is better left unsaid. Another friend I shared it with moved away to a different city and from there I never saw or heard from her again. At first I was pained by this realization and felt a bit slighted, but now I understand. Sometimes through the greatest tragedies some just cannot handle it and some won't, though it doesn't change their care for you sometimes just seeing you is a constant reminder of what they wished had never happened while knowing that they can't change it.
 
I down the line shared my site with another friend, she just said to me that she went in, she saw it, and then she smiled. It is something else to see so many different types of reactions to this, to try to understand each of them and to analyze them. It is very tiring sharing though, you question yourself still and if the reaction is bad or not what you had hoped for it is like being kicked into the stomach. It still does hurt, but from the hurt I have already received in a way it just doesn't compare.

"Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts; not amid joy."           
~Felicia D. Hemans

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Through the times of sharing and trying to heal atleast to a point where I can manage and get by atleast without thinking about it every single waking moment of my day, without having that hollow ache in my heart.
 
I was able to find many websites online that have also helped me achieve survivorhood. Through seeing so many be able to relate, to see them cry and sit in anguish about the same issues, to see some ahead of those issues moved onto something equally as painful, to seeing each reach out for guidance and help......to slowly doing the same. I followed by example, most have had a therapist to walk them through the bad times I since the beginning chose not to so instead I followed what each has shown.
 
I used to mumble the word rape and not put myself next to it, I didn't belong there so how could I possibly think of it having been done to me. Though I knew deep down that it had, I just couldn't stand next to the word. I saw people saying that word with such true conviction, I was envious of them but never thought I could possibly reach that point. In time I made myself, I felt rather sick and ill from it each time but as I kept at it I was able to type the words and slowly say the word without disgust, with being able to stand next to it, without hating myself.
 
December 9th of this year, 2005 marks my 7 year anniversary. Seven years ago I was suicidal, I tried to commit suicide, I was dealing with a miscarriage due to my rape, I was dealing with my family knowing about it and finding out on their own. I saw their pain and I saw their hurt, I heard of times when my brothers wanted to go after him. They never did due to his ownership of a gun, I am glad to say they didn't risk their own lives to attempt to regain mine which could never be.
 
I have been able to pinpoint on my own while comparing with others what upsets me, what triggers me, to what throws me off completely. I will list them as to hope that whomever reads this knows that they are also not alone and that I also understand.

Noone had to diagnose me with PTSD, I looked up the word and saw the symptoms I related to more than half of them. I saw people share theirs and found comfort in knowing that I wasn't the only one having them.

Mine are:

  • I am easily startled if I am not paying attention
  • I can't handle being around loud, noisy, crowded atmospheres for long
  • I'm claustrophobic
  • I see things once in awhile, which apparently is quite common for some survivors
  • I am paranoid at times
  • I can't handle when somebody "steps into my space" and isn't welcomed to be there
  • I can't sleep on my right side due to panic attacks
  • I must have my window down or even cracked some whenever in a car, or I panic
  • I have a fear of drowning, choking, or being smothered
  • I hate the smell of cocoa butter lotion or anything
  • I can't have somebody stand behind me or over my shoulder for that long
  • My alarm clock must sit on the floor or somewhere not facing me, I can't look at the numbers without feeling sick to my stomach
  • I hate being told to shut up, it triggers me bad though I am sure nobody likes being told to
  • I'm afraid of abandonment and being alone forever
  • I have a hard time being around guys besides the few that I know and trust
  • My backyard at night time, I can't go out there without having a panic attack
  • Any open space at dark, such as the drive-in
  • Certain movies and TV shows do, though I still watch them
  • Rodents and many bugs
I used to have many more but through analyzing each and breaking them down they became nothing, I stepped through the darkness of each to only be surrounded by new ones. Healing is extremely difficult, it shows it's face whenever you least expect it to not showing itself when you would. The times that it would normally be there and isn't is to be seen as healed from in my thoughts.
 
Through slowly regaining who I use to be while knowing that I never will be her who wished for stories ever again, instead of hoping it would all go away I have had a change in view to that without it I would not be who I am today. Though I do wonder at times who I would have been without, I find it to be not healthy anymore to wish.
 
I have friends that I never thought I would ever have, ones that would and have done for me more than I could ever thank. I walk with these people, all from many different backgrounds and many different agendas in life but we walk with a common trait. We were all abused in some shape or form, this keeps us bonded.
 
In the last few months I moved from the home I came home to after I was raped, from the room that I sat confused and bloody in after my rape, to one of safety and one where noone knows where I am. I used to see it as me hiding, I didn't want to be someone that hid. I had tried my hardest to get where I am today and just couldn't imagine hiding and being alone again. I moved, I kept to myself and have slowly found comfort and solace in my new place. My rapist used to know where I lived now no longer does. My friends that I thought were true used to come over or just pop up into my life whenever they pleased, now it is no longer possible. I have a stalker issue that I am in the midst of dealing with but that will hopefully soon be over.
 
I have achieved being away from my home without any blood relatives near with the help of a friend. I used to do that all the time before my rape, as well as with the bad friends that I had. When I pulled away from that I found fear in doing so again, like I would be put through hell and hate once more. Instead I found compassion and a newly found family member and very close friend, I never thought it was possible. I did things that I once did in this short period of time, it was my way of taking it back. I took it back and I am still.
 
I came back from this wonderful trip to find out that one of my knights in shining armor after I was raped had ended his own life. The coincidences that pop up have amazed me. Instead of it being me who put the gun to my head it was someone who stood up for me and kept me safe for my remainder of my time at my first job from my rapist and those friends. He helped me grow up and sheltered me as much as he could while putting the most crazy situations in my lap and still standing there with me. I am still healing through this as it has only been a small amount of time since he did it.
 
Because of his death I found myself going back to places where I would see old coworkers and maybe some old friends, I spoke to them and caught up on their lives in this little amount of time. I felt the need to keep going back but pulled myself from it, knowing that the life I once led was not the life I still wanted. I'm still working on finding that life I want, but I'm not doing it alone anymore.
 
I don't allow myself to think of dying, I don't allow myself to become overly distant, I reach out when I need a friend or a shoulder, I know when advice is necessary to be asked for and when to take it.
 
My goal at 28 years old as of now November 29th 2005, just 11 days before my 7 year anni that by 30 years old as said to a close friend my goals will be met. I will have fixed what I let go, I will have paid for things that I threw or pushed away, I will be ready to walk into the world this time not alone and hope to find that happiness that I deserve and to in the end be able to share my stories.

Would you like to read the encouraging aftermath journies of two more wonderful survivors?
See: M's Testimony and Jes's Testimony



Life Goes on by Tupac

"Walking with a friend in the dark
is better than walking alone in the light."
~Helen Keller
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