Sometimes it feels as if no matter how many times we write our stories, no matter how many statistics we show you, you don’t really care.
(Content warning: discussion of sexual assault/rape)
I’m not who I was before I was sexually assaulted. There are parts of myself that I have shed for my own safety and mental health. Being kind, being vulnerable and soft was something I had to learn how to do again, and one thing is absolutely certain: I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I did after being raped.
I have written about assault, especially during Sexual Assault Awareness month, but this year is different. Each time I pour my soul into a piece, I draw out words and put them together with the hope that someone will feel connected or some sense of solidarity.
I write for victims, but I also write for those who don’t know what it’s like, I have written with the hope that those of you who have never felt themselves shredded and stripped of their autonomy will hear us and fight alongside us because we need more people to stand up against rape culture.
We march, we carry signs, we hold hands, we cry, we scream — but who’s listening? Do you care? Do you actually feel empathy, or are you tired of hearing about how I was raped? Are you tired of us advocating for other victims of assault? Do we annoy you? Sometimes it feels as if no matter how many times we write our stories, no matter how many statistics we show you, you don’t really care.
For a moment you ingest our pain; you read details and see flashes of images pushed into the sentences we stitch together. Perhaps you almost feel a sense of revulsion, or even guilt.
You think we were raped by monsters, but the people in our nightmares are people like your fathers, your brothers, your friends, your teachers, your closest companions, your partners, your bosses, professors and the person who just made your coffee. But do you really care?
To you it’s just one more story. How many stories will we have to write for you to care? Or have you read too many of our horrors? Are you desensitized now? Is fighting for us too laborious for you? Your friend made a rape joke, but hey, he’s a good guy. Right?
I won’t tell you about the person who destroyed me. I won’t tell you about the scars. I won’t tell you about the night terrors or the depression or the anxiety or loneliness — because, to you, I’m just another bitch who was probably asking for it. I’m a statistic you will forget, these words of mine, you will forget but I will go back to bed and not have the luxury of forgetting. Because I know what it feels like but I can’t remember who I was before, before it all happened, when I could still forget.
So this isn’t another piece asking you for help. This isn’t a piece where I bare my wounds for you to gawk at. I am tired of proving to you just how difficult it is to recover. I cannot do that labor anymore. The numbers are out there for you to research: the essays, the songs, the art and the speeches are there for you to absorb and carry within your heart so that perhaps one day you can find the time to actually help us dismantle rape culture.