An Open Letter to My Rapist
To the man who raped me,
I hadn’t thought of you yet today or realised the date and time, but my body knew; something inside pulled at me. I don’t know if you remember, but around this time four years ago you were raping me.
I say ‘around this time’ because I don’t remember exactly. Many details from that night are foggy. I hardly remember your face. For a long time your name was a sketchy detail.
Other details are vivid. I remember the color of the sofa and the fireplace my eyes fixed upon as you took part of me that I cannot recover. I remember what I wore and the sleeping bag you later slept in, like you had no care in the world.
Yet the exact time is a blur.
You were by no means the first to rape me (and not my last assault), so I guess I knew how to block out certain details, how to concentrate on insignificant visuals, how to dissociate to survive the assault and not lose myself completely thereafter.
I did though. I lost myself. Just not in the way some might imagine.
I sat watching you sleep, shaking, frozen, deciding when would be polite to ask you to leave (like politeness mattered). When you left I quickly changed, stuffing my ripped tights into my bag, saying goodbye to my sleepy friend. I jumped on a bus home (the journey I don’t recall) and crawled into bed.
I couldn’t tell you if it were hours or days I spent there, all I remember is staring at my white walls for a long, long time, holding myself in a fetal position. Maybe I was wishing the walls would whitewash my soul. In truth, I hadn’t a thought in my mind. I was gone.
Between the bus and the staring I began blocking it out. Not your existence, my friend knew we’d met, but from the first kiss to you leaving – the part where you raped me – that part I removed, just like the assaults throughout my childhood. I put it in a tightly sealed box in my mind and filed it away in my storage cabinet of abuse.
I spent the next eight months uncomfortably ‘happy’, forcing myself into a mania of sorts; even I was convinced of my ‘happy.’ I was busy, constantly. I hardly came up for air between words, talking about nothing with everyone, constantly. I planned and I planned. I did anything to distract myself from the nightmares causing irreparable damage within. One Friday, I held back sobs when asked about my weekend plans. I was free for the first time. I couldn’t explain, but thinking of stopping, doing nothing, being by myself was excruciating.
Then, around eight months after ‘happy’ began, when a some long-standing emotional abuse erupted at home, I broke.
Still it took another two years of unlocking a mountain of other issues before I allowed myself to face this, and only this year have I started processing it.
Now, you’re here.
It’s raw, so raw that some days it feels like yesterday. I find myself re-experiencing, remembering, recovering memories, sometimes like a movie-reel, other times as a slideshow in my brain. Worst is when I’m there, with you on top of me, smells, feelings, sensations, sounds, and it’s happening again.
Some parts remain, always. I distinctly remember the taste of your stale breath when you kissed me as you left. I remember how stunned I felt, frozen in fear that you might start again. I still feel guilty that I didn’t tell my friend how her sofa broke.
To that end, I feel guilty for it all; more than guilt, shame. I am incredibly ashamed I said yes to you coming back for a drink, that I believed you were okay with me wanting nothing more than a kiss. I feel ashamed that I am so abusable, still, even when clear in my intention.
I said “No.” Do you remember? I said no over and over. I remember. It circles my mind. Did you not hear me?
I struggled, breaking the sofa. Did you think it was some twisted game? You couldn’t possibly. No game is played that way. But I couldn’t scream. I’m ashamed of that too.
What memory do you carry? Did you block it out? Do you see my face as you sleep? Are my wrists locked in your grip when you’re in the dark? Do you remember crushing me, worn out from your attack? Do you think about me every single day? Do you know of the horror, trauma, pain, actual physical pain I feel? Do you feel the shame?
I hope I am the only one you bestowed this affliction on. Though I know I probably wasn’t the first or last. I carry this guilt too, for in my heart of hearts I doubt you hold any of it. I doubt you gave me a second thought. How could you? How could you carry the memory of inflicting this amount of agony on another being?
No, you didn’t cause every pain I feel. The sins of my childhood prepped and primed me for your attack, of that I am sure, but their actions do not lessen the impact of yours.
You alone changed my life. You took parts of me that can never be returned, pouring poison that cannot be diluted.
You alone did this. You alone have brought me here, remembering how four years ago (that feels like four minutes ago) you raped me.
You alone raped me.
So here we are, and here we will always be. My feelings will shift and change in time, I trust in this, but your memory will live with me forever. You will live with me forever.
Still, I am alone here. For how could you hear me? You were deaf to my pain the moment you began.
The Woman You Raped