In part 1 of this blog post, I shared the story of my preteen experiences with sexual assault and how I began to heal through connecting with a friend. Here I continue the story.
My relationship with my mother became strained because of the secret I was keeping from her. I was ashamed that I hadn’t told her sooner; ashamed that someone she knew and loved did this to me; and most of all I was scared of what would happen next. I’d like to say that speaking out about your pain and trauma, in a safe space, is always the first step to healing yourself of the experience(s). My mother and I had gotten into an argument that turned physical because she felt I was being disrespectful, when all the while I was working to keep distance between us because I did not want her to experience the same pain that I was feeling. I became irate when she suggested that I be more respectful to the man who abused me, who was living in our home at the time, and I blurted out that I had been molested. In that moment, I felt the rush of sadness that fell onto her, and immediately regretted my decision to say anything. From there, she dealt with the matter accordingly, and saw to it that I went to speak to a professional who could help guide me through my healing.
I was in therapy from the age of 15 until I moved out of my home state, at age 19. I had been doing daily mental exercises, and progressed to monthly therapy sessions when I initially left home. This work became, well, work — and I began to fall out of my routine practices. It was beneficial, though, for me to see the growth that came from facing my trauma. I felt I was able to live without the residue of an experience from almost a decade ago.
While away for work, I began dating a man who was charming, handsome, and well-known in the area. He and I dated for a brief time, and we engaged in consensual sex twice before I called it off. One day, he called me to talk about my decision to call it quits, and I chose to meet up with him that night. When we met, I noticed that he was intoxicated and angry, though I didn’t imagine what would happen next. A man who, I had trusted raped me. For the safety of all readers, I’ll forgo the details of that night. I felt similar to when I had been sexually assaulted as a preteen, though this time, the guilt settled into a different space. This time it hadn’t been at home — instead it was with someone I called a friend, despite not wanting to pursue a romantic relationship with him. I kept quiet about the attack, and told myself that I’d schedule an appointment with my therapist once I returned home. I told myself that I’d be able to hold on for the next few weeks until I got back home to my safe place.
A month later, I found out that I was pregnant by my attacker. I found myself battling depression yet again for being taken advantage of, though I remembered the valuable lesson I’d learned from the first time I experienced sexual assault. I needed to tell someone what happened to me. When I finally returned home, I confided in my older sister and my mother, and told them of the assault I’d experienced while away for work. They respected my decision to get an abortion, as I didn’t see how it was possible for me to birth a child given the nature of its conception. In the midst of the process, I had did something that I never had before. I talked about it. And talked about it some more. And a little bit more. I spoke to those whom I felt safest with, and they received me each time. Each of us grows in our own ways, and I felt a shift in myself and in my decision to speak up about what happened to me. This time I did not feel silenced.
Although I carried around the thought of who my potential child would’ve been, I felt at ease with my decisions, and found peace in knowing that my mental health and physical safety were what mattered most. I thought that since I had healed from my own experiences, there’d be no room for reemergence of these traumas from my past. Within the span of a year’s time, I realized that my thought process was skewed: especially with me being as empathetic as I am, I often found myself widening my capacity to tend to other’s open wounds and soft spots.
In part 3, the final installment, of this blog piece, I’ll share the rest of the story of my experiences with sexual assault and also my healing process.