It was a long time coming and a lot of time to process the painful moments, still I can finally see how my parent’s marital issues and ultimate divorce gave me the strength to speak out about my rape. That awful experience was hiding inside of me… The raw pain was revealed in my earlier posts. There are other moments I still haven’t shared such as how I will never forget how junior year of college (after it happened) I went to church nearly every single Sunday with a friend of mine. And, how I hated the moments in church when I couldn’t explain why the tears were flowing so hard and freely when the words in usually a Baptist or nondenominational church spoke to me and touched upon the hidden pain I failed to acknowledge and understand. I think my mind, body, and spirit knew I was hurting even though I was in denial about what happened. You have to understand how much I hate for anyone to see my tears even in a church which is supposed to be a safe place and where you should actually feel comfortable enough to not be judged.
As I often quote “there’s no crying in baseball,” and I was raised not to cry in a very baseball focused family. Years later I recall my old roommate saying a statement that resonated with me at some point insignificant yet also this point was significant because I remember her words only and not what brought them on. I have to paraphrase what she said because I may not get the words exactly right but she said something along these lines: “it always seemed like something happened to her [meaning me] on her trip to Florida.” When she said that, I still was not opening up too much about what truly happened during that homecoming vacation. I can honestly say my rape is a ton easier to talk about it these days. I watch people’s reactions when I reveal that I am a rape survivor less closely. I have met people who have shared with me that they know other survivors far more than there should be to something that many feel is preventable. Yet, it happened to me and while yes there are ways to prevent it I still never deserved blame for what happened. No one should go through that horror. Thankfully, I no longer have to try to stop asking “why did it happen” because I no longer torture myself with that question. That would be like asking “why did my parents marriage fail?” I no longer feel the need to know the answer to either question.
I simply feel a responsibility to take some kind of action on my part whether it is as big as speaking to an audience of thousands or to a single, college-bound youth. My rape is no longer a taboo topic. I have accepted that my Dad walked out on me when I still needed him profoundly and while I was still processing the rape. Perhaps he walked out not only so I could learn a greater lesson but also because his own deep unspoken pains could not allow him to love me unconditionally. Still, he taught me that I will never allow my own daughter if she becomes someone else’s “step”-daughter to be hurt emotionally the way my Dad did when he chose to walk out on me because he felt disrespected in therapy. Alternatively, my Mom was the one to show more compassion towards my pain. While we have our own share of other issues, she stuck by me as I was forced to deal with the ugly secret of my rape. Perhaps, another strength I gained from my parents divorce is the strength to realize my own marriage had a few things amiss a lot sooner than I would have otherwise. Who can say for sure how much of an impact any of those things had exactly? Focus on the fact that they had impact and created a profound shift in my perception of myself.
I do miss a lot of things I had before I started talking about being raped and my parents divorce if I am 100% honest. Yet, I wholeheartedly believe everything happens for a reason. No one can take away what I learned and the strength I gained from replacing my fears about what people (especially my Dad and Mom) would say or think about me because I was raped. Simply put I value that strength. I am stronger from the crazy, hard-to-understand, and difficult experiences of my life and I no longer allow myself to regret that for one second. Both of my parents gave me courage to face the hidden truths of my past in spite of their divorce. I am stronger than ever before. Who could ever find fault with that? If I could truly sum up what I learned about my strength: “Face your fears and be inspired in spite of adversity.” #beenrapedneverreported