by Dish Staff
A reader writes:
Like many others, I was simply floored by the post in which a woman bravely details her experience of being raped and dealing with its aftereffects. (A college friend who was also raped forwarded me the story – it came with the subject line “oh my God.”) Never before has someone – even the two therapists I have seen since my rape, not even novelists, and I’ve read a few – crystallized those feelings, that experience, that shame, so powerfully and so accurately. It was all the things I’ve wanted to say for years but for which I’d never been able to find the exact right words. And then there they were.
I was raped my freshman year of college, within two weeks of having arrived at my school.
Initially, I didn’t tell anyone what happened. I just couldn’t. I had just started. I just wanted to be a normal student like everyone else. And that’s what I tried to be, even though I barely stayed above water. That is until I noticed how differently my friend was behaving when she returned from her junior year abroad. I recognized her symptoms immediately because they were the same symptoms I had been suffering from for the past few years. So I flat-out asked her if something had happened while she was abroad. She told me that yes – something did happen. We then confided in each other and spent our senior year trying to help each other feel a little bit less alone. We even gave ourselves the name “the rape sisters.”
That was years ago, and we have both since moved on. But you never move past. It’s always there. Whether it’s how you can never go into that deep wonderful sleep again the same way you used to, or the way someone brushes up against you in public, there’s always something to trigger that memory that never leaves.
I wish I knew who this author was so that I could give her a hug and tell her thank you. I wish they would hand her story out to incoming freshmen at every college and university in the country and make them read it. It is quite simply the best account of what rape does to a woman’s heart, mind, and soul that I have ever read.
And thank you for posting it. Stories like that, like ours, need to be told.
One thing that really brought home the reality of rape and assault to me was the Unbreakable Project. Survivors write down the words their rapists used and (sometimes) pose with them.