Healing My Soul

Yesterday I had two stark reminders of my rape. Two innocuous details told to me by a random stranger sent chills down my spine and made the hair on my arm raise. I spoke to it. I told him in the moment I was triggered. That he was, at that very moment, reminding me of one of the most heinous people I can recall. I felt the vomit rise in my throat as I tried to breathe through the discomfort. It passed. The stranger would be taken aback by my candor. He would assure me that he knew rape was bad, that rapists were not good people and that I deserved to always feel beautiful. I silently cried. Just as I’m doing right now. Because during the entirety of my assault, he couldn’t stop telling me how beautiful I was. Like he couldn’t help himself...  

I tried not to gather worry as I watch the days tick closer to the anniversary of my assault. However, despite my best efforts I found myself staring at the calendar wishing I could stop the train. February 23 was coming no matter what and I wished it could be just another day, but now I am sure that this year won’t be the year for it’s quiet arrival.  

Honestly my head is swimming with how to proceed. I want to spin my moment of horror and heaviness into something beautiful and digestible but I lack that ability. Aware also that my desire to clean up something so vile, is not my responsibility because I didn’t do anything wrong. Did I? Surviving rape culture is almost as exhausting as surviving rape.  

The complicated reality of my situation was that while I did choose my partner that night, I did not consent to his actions. Still, I have to live everyday knowing I betrayed myself, my intuition by not being strong enough to endure loneliness. I wanted and needed attention so badly I ignored signs that perhaps this wasn’t the person to seek attention from. But truthfully, there’s no way I could have known. Right?  

Ive replayed every detail more times than I care to admit. I run my mind over my body and interrogate whether my nonverbal communication said something different from my mouth. Maybe I only thought I said “No”? His voice, his smell, his slick comments are burned into my memory. The dance around the room as I worked to try and stop various acts of violence. The fight. The struggle. The surrender. The tears. The decision to do whatever was asked of me because that made the pain stop, at least somewhat. Was I wrong? Should I have endured more physical pain? Would I feel better now?  


Jessica Williams