Anonymous Story: A Letter to Survivors

Anonymous Story: A Letter to Survivors

I remember telling myself to think about the Ocean.

When difficult moments came up in my life, I would always remind myself to think about the Ocean. I would try and picture that I was sitting by the water. Calm, safe, and at peace. The Ocean was a restorative place for me, and a space that reminded me how fortunate I am to be alive.

And I remember telling myself that night to think about the Ocean.

I’m told by my counsellor that trauma has a way of changing the chemistry of the brain. It’s explained to me that I may wrestle with the overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame, and vulnerability for months, even years. But when I’m told this during our first meeting, I didn’t believe it. And I didn’t believe it, because the woman she was talking about that morning in June wasn’t me.

I am a resilient woman? A strong woman? An intuitive woman? Because despite the paralyzing moments of panic that brought me to my bathroom floor in seconds; it wasn’t me? Despite the excessive, unhealthy exercise that turned me into a shadow of my former self; it wasn’t me? And despite the prescribed sleeping pills that never gave any relief from the fear that consumed my nights; It wasn’t me?

 “My top was too tight.” “I had too much wine” “I went with him to that house voluntarily.” “I lead him on.” “He didn’t mean to.” I’m overreacting.” “I did something to make him angry.”             Trauma.  

The memory of rape can linger in the mind like a scene from a movie. It can be relentless, haunting, and unforgiving. The days can be long, and the nights longer. That scene comes back to me when I least expect it. – In a meeting. In my car. In my best friends kitchen while I’m alone with her kind husband when she leaves the room.
It’s uncontrollable, and it hits me like a wave. ” Think about the Ocean.”

What was once an escape for me, now holds a different meaning. Thoughts of the Ocean now bring me back to a feeling that is comparable to having my body ripped in two.
Powerless, ashamed, exposed, vulnerable. Broken.

I’m writing this as a broken woman. A woman who holds cards of guilt, regret, and vulnerability close to her chest like a scarlet letter. I’m not the woman I thought I was before that night. Instead of sensing danger; I laughed and drank wine. Instead of fighting for my power and dignity; I remembered a fire red sunset by the Ocean on the East Coast

I apologized to him for my pain, and I went home bleeding, confused. My judgement was clouded, and my memory failed me. This haunts me.  

I have only shared my story with a few trusted friends, and my counsellor. I have not found the strength to come forward, and I have not identified him. I admire the ones who have had the courage to share their stories. You have gotten me through more dark nights then you can imagine.

I can’t change what happened to me, but I can chose to share a small piece of my story with a hope that this letter might be a small comfort to someone who is suffering in silence.

You define who you are. Your power is in your story, and your strength is in your survival. You will get through this, and you will be whole again. You are not alone.  

I find hope in the world. Although there is still fear. Still regret. Still darkness. There is also love. Light. Faith. Peace. Water.

The pain from sexual assault can be strong enough to rip the heart from your chest. But there is healing… and enough beauty on a quiet beach in the East to calm the most tortured souls   <3

Love and prayers to the survivors.
Yours in anonymity, but no longer in silence.

Ontario, Canada. September, 2019

Author

WYR

WYR

When You're Ready.org is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.

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