Today, July 13th 2016, is a day I will never forget. It’s a day where I felt tired. In fact, it’s 8:00 pm when I am writing this blog post and I am already in bed, wanting to put this off until tomorrow so I can sleep. But it’s too important to wait.
I feel tired because I did a lot of work today. A lot of hard work. Work that required me to go back to a place or more so, places, that I have tried to avoid for 6 years. I wasn’t sure if those places still existed as I thought I was dealing with everything just fine. Clearly, fine is a relative term.
It will be six years at the end of August. Gosh, I don’t know if that feels like forever or that it was just yesterday.
It will be six years since I was raped.
I grew up with parents who taught us that life isn’t always easy. I thought I had a good understanding of what “dark times” meant. That was until I was horrifically violated one night that led to a diagnosis of PTSD, depression and anxiety that exists 6 years later. If you take a second to think of the strides we have made today in regards to speaking out against sexual assault (which I hope you are saying to yourself, “this crime is shrouded in silence and we need to do something!”) well, you can only imagine what it was like 6 years ago. Let me just tell you, it was awful. Actually, awful doesn’t even cut it. In fact, I can’t think of a word to even come close in describing how painful it was.
Not only was I told by police that I have no chance in court because rape victims rarely win their cases, but I was told by peers that I was “ruining his life.” Or worse, “I don’t blame him. I would rape that too.” I knew I was about to fight an uphill battle. But, I also knew I wasn’t going to let him take away anything else from me, especially my voice.
I did all of the the things rape survivors are told to do. I went to the hospital where they examined every inch of me. Without getting into details, because it’s one of those places I thought I could forget, I cannot go to the gynecologist without having a melt down. Thankfully, my doctor is amazing and handles my tears like a saint.
I gave the police the clothes I was wearing that night, my bed sheets, and retold my statement over and over. The only way to describe this experience is truly a trauma on top of a trauma on top of another trauma.
After the assault, I transferred to Ohio State where I joined the sexual assault committee where I later became chair. I spoke out against sexual assault, domestic violence and tried to educate students on bystander intervention. I volunteered at the Sexual Assault Network helping and encouraging other survivors. I was HEALED! Or, so I thought.
I moved back to Cincinnati last October and a couple months ago I was asked by an agency, Women Helping Women, to share my story as a survivor for the It’s On Us Campaign. I told my story in front of cameras and an audience of people I did not know. On top of bringing up old wounds, our city councilman passed out, drawing more attention to the campaign which landed my face on the news and an article in The Cincinnati Enquirer. HOLY SH*T! If God wasn’t telling me to bring light to this topic before, He certainly is now. Talk about 0 to 100 real quick my friends. But what I came to know on this beautiful Wednesday in July, is that God isn’t just calling me to bring light to sexual assault. He is also calling me to bring light to myself. To understand that every second I spend wishing God would take away my struggle is a forfeited opportunity to overcome.
I didn’t always know He had any good plans for me coming out of this tragedy. In fact, my faith was extremely shaken after the assault. However, I was never angry at Him. I knew He didn’t want this to happen to His daughter. But what I didn’t know then, that I do now, is He still deems me worthy, even in the moment where I felt the least deserving.
After the assault I felt an excruciating amount of shame and guilt. I believed I was damaged and dirty. More importantly, I felt as if I let Him down.
Today I took time to reflect on specific memories that are too hard for me to talk about. However, I knew He was nudging something within me to allow Him to heal those places knowing He is the only one who can. So, tonight, I know I will sleep easy knowing He has brought me to a place of peace in a memory that deemed impossible to feel anything but. And that is why July 13th, 2016 is a day I feel tired. Tired of feeling any less than a child of God.
If you take one thing away from this blog, let it be this: What matters most is not what we think we are or are not. What matters is what our Father sees in us and what He says about us. And let me tell you, He sees someone worthy enough to die for.
With Grace and Love,
* If you are a survivor of sexual assault, I would love to talk to you, encourage you and pray with you. Send me a message. Please also know that this is NOT your fault. You are cherished and adored 🙂
*1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted. It’s time we STAND up and SPEAK out against rape. This crime is shrouded in silence caused by unfair social myths and biases that discriminate the victim rather than the offender and it is ON US to change that. Consent is clear and without it, it’s rape. Let’s stand up and say enough of the victim blaming and start saying more of “it wasn’t your fault.”