Every one in four people experience rape. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ve lived a life in which you’ve never experienced this. But if you’re like me, then you have.
For those of you who haven’t, I’m writing this as an urge to be aware about what you say and to who. Yes, we all have freedom of speech, but I’m asking you to use your freedom for words that build up, not words that tear down.
What rape victims never tell you about is the daily reminder we live with. It’s been four years today, I’ve forgiven him, in fact, I pray for him every now and again. I am not ashamed that I have been raped, it’s made me who I am today and I’ve been able to help so many others because of my experience. All of this is true, yet I still think of it at least once every day.
Here’s what you can’t see:
Sometimes the deodorant you wear is the same as his, and it’s pungent to my nose; it tears my stomach in knots. But you are not the rapist, nor is that smell the rapist, so I say nothing.
Every time a car passes by that is the same one as he drove, my stomach drops and I scan the license plate. It’s never him.
His name is not common, thankfully, but every time I hear someone with that name, my stomach cringes.
You’re wearing the same outfit as him, but I don’t say anything… because hey, you’re a cool guy and there’s no need to be a downer. You don’t know how many times I want to ask you to change, wear anything but that shirt.. or change the pants. But I say nothing.
Another rape joke was made, but I stay silent. Everyone else is laughing, so I’ll hide my memories for now.
That song was playing that night and I hate it so much, but everyone is singing along. I can’t sing along.
I don’t want to drink cranberry juice. After four years, it still reminds me of that night.
Sometimes when I’m quiet, I’m not mad at you. I’ve just had a flashback and I’m trying not to throw up.
Even though I’ve accepted this happened to me, I still battle feelings of shame every now and again. I know how to fight those thoughts now, but they still come.
Rape is not a joke. It’s not funny. We live with this memory every day. Even those of us who are blessed and lucky enough to have forgiven the person who raped us and have moved on, we still deal with the inevitable consequences of having your body and soul taken from you.
Too many people stay silent. Those of us who have been raped, we learn to conceal it. It took me two years to tell a single person. But that was the beginning of my healing process. Up to that point, I thought I had moved passed it, but I had just learned to act like it didn’t happen. No healing came from that. Healing came when I broke down in a puddle of tears and my sisters held me. Healing came when I was standing in a worship service and God opened His arms and love to me still, when I felt gross and undeserving of His love.
Don’t stay silent if you’ve been raped. Don’t be afraid to tell your story. So many other girls are afraid and feeling like no one could possibly understand, so tell your story. You’re not alone.
Those of you who haven’t been raped - be thankful and be aware that there are hurting people out there. Think twice before making a rape joke. Think twice before listening to music that degrades sexuality. Think twice.
If it’s not consensual, it’s rape.
That’s what God does though, He takes us to the brink until we are shattered, then He picks us up and rebuilds us. It is a sweet breaking, one that leaves us more dependent than ever, but more loved and cherished than we thought.
I am learning to praise God, even when He is silent; what a blessing it is."