On March 31st, 2017, it was brought to my attention that the man who assaulted me as a child had been carrying on his traumatic tendencies of sexual assault, though this time he had raped a young girl that I knew. After she spoke out about her experiences, there was a legal case opened. I vividly remember being in the parking lot of my neighborhood Harris Teeter, down the street from my house, having my first panic attack. I had healed from my personal experience, though I hadn’t thought about what would happen to the man who assaulted me all those years ago. Something about this situation made me feel like the same little girl who had been coerced into silence. I spoke to a few detectives and had been contacted by the young woman’s legal representative to testify in court. I felt extremely uneasy, because testifying meant that I’d have to express what happened to me, detail by detail. I declined to testify, though I gave the young woman permission to use my name if needed to validate her position. After I declined, I was no longer contacted by anyone, though the trauma she had experienced began to linger in my mind, along with my own recounted memory. And as I had felt when I was first assaulted, over a decade ago at this time, I was unsafe anywhere and everywhere.
This time the guilt I felt was in my stomach. In addition to declining to testify, I had begun declining food, sleep, and my usual activities. I quit my job and stayed in bed for a week straight. One morning, I woke up and decided that life wasn’t worth living if it came with these extremities every few years. So, I attempted suicide on April 9th, 2017.
When I woke up in the hospital on April 10th, 2017, I felt stupid and lower than I ever had in my life. I was surrounded by many of the people who love me most, and it hurt me even more to see how deeply they were affected by my attempt to end my own life. I chose not to go to weekly therapy because this time I wasn’t ready to talk through it immediately. It felt like I had a front row seat to the young woman’s trial with the man who sexually assaulted us, and in standing with her, I was no longer afraid of the outcome. He was sentenced to serve time, and I was relieved to know that he wouldn’t be inflicting trauma onto anyone else. I am grateful that I was alive to witness that day, and it gave me a new perspective for when things get tough. Situations like this can seem challenging and bigger than life, though if you just take it step-by-step and keep keen focus, you can overcome anything. Anything at all.
In August of 2017, I had decided to give therapy another shot. I was in a better mental space, though I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t subconsciously harboring emotions from all of these collective experiences. The great thing about counseling & therapeutic services is that you can go when you feel you need to. There’s no pressure to be seen by your providers, though most establishments provide a 24-hr crisis hotline for pressing matters. I continued with traditional therapy and music therapy for some time, until I felt well enough to guide myself along.
With the love and support of my loved ones and my mental healthcare providers, I’ve been able to move forward with my journey in healing. It can be difficult to deal with sexual assault and to talk about it head on, though always remember that your voice is valid and your experience matters. You deserve wholeness in your body, and above all else, you deserve to love yourself and your body.
For those who may know of someone who is going through a similar situation, please allow them space to communicate in whatever way feels safest for them. If you do not have insurance or access to appropriate resources, you can ask if mental healthcare providers in your area have any discounted rates or separate services to cover costs. Most states in the USA have services available for folks who may not have the funds readily available to seek guidance and help. Likewise, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED OR ABUSED, OR IF YOU SUSPECT SEXUAL ABUSE, CAROLINA PARTNERS PROVIDERS CAN HELP.