I did not want to come out on my sexual assault experience. During the few days (or more, I cannot quite remember) following it, I was in utter shock, frozen, felt a loss of dreams and romantic fantasies (I had been a very romantic little girl, dreaming of the ideal prince charming, of the ideal first time, the ideal love story, etc). At that time, I wanted to keep my virginity for the ‘one’. Suddenly, all these dreams were taken away from me. I could not eat or think well, I could not even feel much. Like a part of me was numb or dead. It wasn’t a horribly painful feeling: it was more like the absence of the ability to feel for some time. Traumatized? I didn’t speak about it.
Now that I think of it, I handled it really ‘well’. No one around me noticed or would ever imagine what I had gone through. And I was 14? Yes in the year I turned 15. It was as if I had absorbed everything in and had buried it there. Talking about it or denouncing the guy was out of question. Somehow, I felt that I was guilty too, because I did not try harder to stop him and I should have. But it was not my fault. I did not know exactly how people had sex. I knew in theory that the dick has to go into the vagina somehow, but I hadn’t gone into the details or watched porn or anything like that, and in practice I had no idea how it happened. So I said, please don’t do it. And he promised he would not do it until it was too late. I pushed him, I tried to stop him, I said please stop, then I gave up.
Following that, I could not blame him because I knew if that was out, the punishment would have been horrible for him. My parents would have gone to great lengths to make him suffer as much as they would have suffered had they known the truth. And I knew him, and I still did not see him like the typical child abuser. He was a normal guy, popular with girls and ‘nice’. I also felt the stigma, and didn’t want my parents to feel like the parents of ‘a sexually abused girl,’ which is nothing to be ashamed of, now I realize. IT’S NOT HER FAULT. I obviously did not want people to know what had happened to me. Being sexually abused, or raped, feels like being deeply, irreversibly stained for life. It’s like a mark you can never wash off. It kind of makes you feel inferior to other people.
Also, talking about it meant the whole story would come up again. And it was just too painful to relive this experience and face the fact that it really happened. I’d rather keep it in the dark, by not thinking, not talking about it, somewhere it would not touch me again. But the truth is that it did continue to touch me, deep inside. I didn’t realize it until I was in relationships with people, until I went through feelings of feigned ‘openness’ towards sex, confusion, then developed fear, uneasiness and shame or guilt towards the whole sexual experience. It happened at a very influential moment during my sexual and psychological growth. It was during that special moment of transition from childhood to adulthood and mine was robbed of its innocence and purity.
At one point, recently, and several times, recurrently, I wanted to get rid of the whole ‘sex’ thing from my life, because it was so synonymous with ‘wrong’. “But it isn’t wrong when I’m with my partner who loves me and whom I love”, I kept telling myself that. And I knew it intellectually. I even managed to have meaningful moments of deep, blissful sexual union. However, the lingering feeling of ‘wrongness’ still haunted me. Still does. It still makes me want to banish sex from my life. And I’m still struggling to come to terms with it. And I’m still not sure if the root of this is the sexual assault or not.
Should I denounce him? I can’t do that. I blame him because it’s because of him that I lost my innocence and dreams, which I think I would anyway when confronted with reality later, but not in such a barbaric way. I blame him because I still suffer the psychological consequences of that act. I blame him because my life would have taken a less distorted and confused turn, had this not happened. I blame him because I feel I lost a part of my soul since that day, that is not retrievable. But I know that seeing him being punished is not going to bring anything back to me. However, I’m happy I still grew up to have beautiful, magical love stories and I do not carry that ‘sexually abused’ label anywhere. People who know me know I’m a fine human being, adjusting to life as any other person: living. In that sense, I’m happy I left that past behind. Externally, burying that past has helped me move on and live. And although, externally is not everything, had I let it affect my whole being, and showed it to the world, I think it would have blocked me in growing up as a ‘normal’ person. We have to be reminded that people’s attitudes and reactions to sexual assault survivors are not in our control. I did not want to deal with that. The idea of having to explain myself or justify myself in that case was unthinkable.
I decided to be out of this cycle of ‘you hurt me, I hurt you’. Yes, I think of ‘What if he does that again to someone else?’ but again, he did not seem to be that type of guy. It just happened. It was not planned. I don’t know, I feel bad when I think it could happen again. But I can’t imagine all the problems in his life, in his family’s life I would create if I denounced him, -even in my parents’ life- and I don’t want that. I don’t want to create all that negativity now. I have the right to choose to remain silent, right? Or do I have the responsibility to speak out?