A Step Into the Mind of Someone Who Was Sexually Assaulted
Every case is different. That’s obvious. But we all have one thing in common. We all have our things. These things don’t necessarily mean physical items, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be.
For me, I won’t sleep without my door being locked. If it’s not locked, there is someone else home. Someone I trust. Someone female.
Even then, I can’t sleep without some kind of aid or pushing myself to exhaustion. I take melatonin every single night, and sometimes it’s not enough. I used to be a deep sleeper. I would sleep through the California earthquakes. If the house had been on fire, I would have no idea. Now, I can’t stay asleep for a two full hours. I wake up at least four times per night. I don’t know what wakes me. My cat meowing downstairs, my mom softly snoring across the house. But most of the time, it’s just my mind.
Everyone has their walls, and mine have grown in size. Layer by layer, I added onto them. I found new ways not to trust people, though they didn’t make any sense if I said them out loud, or wrote them down. Why? Because I was assaulted by someone I had trusted. Someone who had given me their word. Someone who I let past my wall. Back then, it was small. You could step over it with ease. I was open. Because of him, I build up a defense system in the form of a maze. I’ve lost myself within it, it’s walls being taller than the clouds, and it breaks me inside to let anyone try to find their way through.
I can’t trust my gut. When I first met him, something inside me told me that he was okay, I could believe what he was saying. I could let him give me a ride home. I could study with him. I could vent to him. I could invite him over for New Year’s. I could fall asleep on the couch with him there. I was wrong. I’ve become guarded. I find myself sleeping next to pepper spray now. Needless to say, I won’t leave anywhere without it.
I have trouble believing authority when they say that they will handle a situation. After he started becoming violent towards me at our high school, I went to our vice principal. I didn’t know what else to do. And here comes your typical story of the ‘victim’ coming forward after a battle within myself, scared out of my mind, and being told that it was my fault. Being asked what I was wearing. Being asked to provide details. Being asked if we had a previous relationship. Being asked if there was alcohol involved. Seven times. Getting disbelieving remarks when I said that I was sexually assaulted while I slept. And after our interrogation, nothing changed. I was made to see a counselor.
I’m easily offended when it comes to jokes about consent. Obviously, rape jokes are messed up and unacceptable in general. But I would be able to ignore them or brush them off in the past. Now I can’t just sit there while people talk about not getting consent. I might seem petty on the outside, but when someone violates you after you had made it very clear and known that you did not consent, and you had trusted them when they told you they wouldn’t dare… well, it gets to you.
I can’t listen to the Beatles without thinking of him. I had to delete them off of every playlist I have to prevent unexpected breakdowns.
And that doesn’t include things that have changed behind closed doors.
It’s been almost three years since I woke up at about 2 am on New Year’s Day to him on top of me. And I’ve improved. I don’t jump as much anymore. I’ve fallen asleep in the same room as my boyfriend while we watched a movie. In the last few months, I’ve been able to listen to the Beatles without crying, and there’s even times that I’ve found myself humming along. I’ve let people try to figure me out. They don’t know everything, no one does. The people who know me best will probably find one or two things they didn’t know in this article.
I’m proud of myself. I’ve come so far in recovering from what he took from me. Peace of mind. But I have my bad days. I know everyone does. Things like what I’ve listed can trigger them instantly. Like when certain Beatles songs come on when I’ve had a hard day. Or someone throws a, “what’s your problem?” after I argue a rape joke. Or I fall asleep when one of my roommates is home, and I wake up to find that she left the apartment and didn’t lock the door. I never really had anxiety before, but now I can’t remember a life without it.
Time is crucial when it comes to recovery, I know that. One day, I’ll be able to hear his name without tensing up. Or at least, I hope. All any of us can ever do is hope.
When is comes to people who have been sexually assaulted, be cautious, but don’t be obvious. If someone seems guarded, don’t attack and demand you know everything. It will take time. And it’s nothing you’ve done, so don’t make it about you. Because honestly, they want to open up to you. They’re just trying to find out how. They need to put themselves first when it comes to this. You won’t understand, and that’s okay. Be patient and sympathize.
Originally posted on The Odyssey.