I was sitting watching The Smurfs with the boys, when I got the phone call I won’t soon forget. My friend from college called to tell me that she had been assaulted in her own home. We cried together and shared our stories and I tried my best to be of comfort, even though I knew that no matter what I said, I could not take away the pain. I am so angry, I don’t even know where to direct my rage.
How long is this sort of thing going to continue to happen? I listened as she questioned herself and searched for what she may have done to trigger this awful event. I told her that she was not responsible and that the only way to avoid being raped is not to be in the room with a rapist. This dirty bastard stole her sense of self, her feelings of security, and her trust in people. This dirty bastard took so much with an act of complete selfishness.
I don’t know where to put this. I don’t know how to deal with this. She was talking and I kept flashing back to my own rape. People tell you that in time that you get over it, but I don’t think that is the case. In time you may learn to put it beside you, however; I don’t think that you ever put it behind you. You could be having a perfectly normal day and something will trigger you and take you back; leaving you feeling like a raw open wound.
I don’t have the courage of Cara from the Curvature. I cannot look at this thing even to denounce it because it triggers me. It leaves me feeling angry and afraid. My friend had the courage that I never did and she charged this evil man. I will stand next to her when the trial comes. I will stand next to her as a survivor and as a member of the club that no one wants to be in.
I feel powerless. I studied sociology and womens’s studies. I’ve read the journal articles, and the text books. I’ve watched all of the documentaries. I understand what happened on a theoretical level. I know that rape is about power and not about sex. I know that rape is about having power over women and feeling that one has the right to access female bodies but when I listened to her story and the tears rolled down my cheeks, that knowledge left me and I found myself silently whispering why.
You see, you can theoretically understand rape but living with the after effects is another story entirely. Rape is evil. It is fucking evil. I don’t think you really know it, until it happens to you. It makes you sick inside and I will never have enough tears for what was done to me and what happened to my friend. Perhaps I am naive to hope that there will come a day when hurting another human being like this, will be unfathomable. Rape challenges my belief that there is any kind of goodness in people.
We talked about the rage and the ways in which it steals your peace. I have been so angry that my whole body shakes and my vision blurs. It’s a rage that consumes you. You want to lash out but where. You have questions but what answers can ever fully explain why? You sleep without dreaming and move through the world like a zombie. Everyone is suspect and there is no peace.
I know I will be up to the wee hours of the morning replaying our conversation, searching for a way that I can help her. I will relive my own assault and cry again for what was taken from me. I want to live in a world where rape is non existent. I want to live in a world where women matter. Thing is, I don’t even have the courage to write about it. I don’t have the courage to participate in any form of activism. I don’t read new stories or blog posts about rape. I change the channel when a rape scene comes on the television. I simply cannot deal. God help me, I’m still scared.
I have to help my friend and I don’t know how. I have to help her find her place of stillness, so that she can put this beside her. When I see her next, I know that I will hold her close but how can I, a woman who lives with everything so close to the surface, offer her the hope I don’t even feel? Each day that I walk through this life, I feel his hands on my throat, I see his face, and feel his breathe on my skin. It is like yesterday for me and if I still feel this way after all of these years, what do I tell her?