real life

'It's been one year since I was raped. And today, I'm transported back.'

Today marks one year since the day I was raped.

And admitting this in a public forum is scary as hell.

My rape story is like so many others, filled with guilt and shame. A perpetrator who no one else could believe could do such a thing. A protective army surrounding him and a never-ending circle of those who were quick to judge me.

And now, on my traumaversary, I am transported back to where I was a year ago. Confused, upset, angry, guilt-ridden and shameful. But new emotions are with me also… I feel stronger. I have been incredibly fortunate to be blessed with a loving, supportive friendship group around me, a great psychologist and an incredible mum who has been with me through every bump of this rollercoaster. Even with all this support and love I still feel a bit lost today.

The last few weeks have been emotional with the anticipation of today and now it is here I just feel overwhelmingly exhausted. I am mentally exhausted from thinking about that night and the choices I made to be in that situation.

I often half-joke that had I liked quiche it wouldn’t have happened as I would have accepted a dinner invitation. It’s exhausting to run over the same vague flashbacks of the assault over and over and over again and not come up with new memories. It’s exhausting to read media coverage every single day about other women and girls who have undergone the same torment, even worse than I have, and even more exhausting to talk about this with friends and colleagues without letting slip my own story.

And it is physically exhausting, so physically exhausting. Sleepless nights lead to lethargy through the day… I exercise less and become even more tired as my fitness dwindles. I am on high alert whenever I am out at night or in bars, even at work events and maintaining that level of vigilance is hard work. My heart is racing constantly and there are days my whole-body shakes from nervous energy.

It is exhausting to think about the magnitude of these attacks on both men and women and concerning that societal norms of victim blaming are still in practice – hell I still blame myself some days.

In the months following my assault, the hatred I felt toward myself was all consuming. He was a good guy. He seemed upset at the thought of assaulting you. He said it was consensual. You were drunk so you must have consented. He didn’t realise you were so drunk. He feels terrible.

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On and on, the justifications came. And so, I believed them. I believed that he was a good guy and that I was in the wrong. I believed that I had caused him anguish by falsely accusing him. I believed that I was the disgusting slut who caused this whole thing.

The things that didn’t fit their narrative were conveniently forgotten or dismissed; I must have tripped and that’s what caused the bruising on my upper arms… we don’t know where the blood came from so it mustn’t be a big deal… they were drunk so that’s why their stories are different… I was probably sore because I had been drunk and we hadn’t used lube. I believed it all, because I believed it was my fault.

Finally, I began to question things. I began to read more on the side effects of roofies. My hangover had all the trademarks signs of having being drugged and the venue was known for drink spiking and high drug use. I read more on other experiences of date rape and the so called good guys who turned out to be perpetrators, I read back on my own notes I had written immediately after the rape. Stories didn’t make sense and accounts from the men contradicted each other. And finally, after months of therapy, I began to question why I had been so willing to blame myself and forgive him.

I have read a lot on how I should view today; many blogs suggest celebrating today as I survived the ordeal and am here on the other side, a functioning, happy, slightly neurotic woman.

The problem with that is I don’t feel like a survivor though, in fact I mostly feel quite weak. Maybe I will get to the survivor stage next year but today I plan on shutting myself away for one night. I will feast on terrible, comfort food without guilt and watch the trashiest shows I can find on Netflix. My phone will be out of reach and I won’t be on social media or news sites. I want to be in a numbing, safe, bubble away from the world and the place I feel safest is alone in my bed.

Tomorrow is a new day and I plan on making the most of it, I just need this one night for me.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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