As I have already mentioned in several social media outlets, my next official Speaking Engagement will be as a featured speaker for the April 20 Poetry Slam 4 SAAM (www.slam4saam.eventbrite.com). While I most certainly look forward to this event, I can’t help but also acknowledge all the feelings it also stirs up for me. Luckily, I still have a little over three weeks to prepare myself and organize my thoughts. What’s more telling is I have realized is the process of letting go is not what strangers and acquaintances want to make it out to be. So many people become uncomfortable when I share the face that I was raped. And, the brave people who dare to comment on a very personal, hurtful, and loss-filled experience are very likely to say something offensive – not always but quite frequently.
In some ways, I feel like I’m finally coming full circle. For a long time, I knew it was easier to shove the whole horrid experience to the back out my mind because that was exactly what I did not want to deal with, other people’s opinions. Rape is the only crime where the victim is automatically blamed for the crime. Very few people’s first thought is to unfailingly believe and support the person – girl or guy – who was attacked. The fact of the matter is only a small percentage of rapes are false claims. I feel like their is a hesitation to admit to this monstrous act that occurs in our society in all parts of the world. Moreover, it is a delicate issue because it is about an act that is supposed to be associated with love and intimacy. Rape turns a beautiful representation of love into something ugly. For a time, once I began admitting to myself and others that I was raped, I felt like my life had fully turned into the ugly mess I had tried so hard to avoid. Yet, the old saying goes “time heals all wounds” and while I believe time has helped in some ways I also believe I lost so much that I can not regain. Being scarred by the aftermath of speaking out has tested me greatly. However, where I stand today has truly shown me the true character of the people around me. Now I know that I’m stronger than I led myself to believe. And, while I do accept that I am the survivor of something horrific, I also like to believe that I more than just a survivor. I believe that who I am as a whole and my character is what the rapist could never take away from me. I will always be more than a survivor and that fact was solidified the day I finally started talking about being raped because I finally feel like I am doing something to create change. Together I hope we can change the unfair stigmas associated with rape.