my story *TW*
It is tough to talk to my friends and family about this. My mom has had 20 years to come to peace with what happened and she is willing to talk whenever I need to. But I feel bad talking to her about it because it must bring up awful memories. And I know it kills her that it has affected me. She didn’t want me to find out until I was older. But I am now 18, living in another country, and have panic attacks when the word ‘rape’ is mentioned. I absolutely dread walking in the dark because all I can see is what happened to her. I don’t think I would be strong or rational enough to do what she did. I try so hard to be strong but when this topic is involved, I am terribly weak. I have found that talking helps the most. But who to talk to? The handful of friends that do know get too overwhelmed when I try to talk to them. They tell me, just stop thinking about it. If it makes you sad and upset, just push it away. Oh how I wish it were that simple. They just don’t understand. That’s why I needed to tell my story to people who have experienced it themselves. I need to know I’m not alone.
The other thing I struggle with is that it wasn’t me. Why do I have this reaction if I wasn’t the one raped? I feel like I shouldn’t be having panic attacks if I didn’t experience it firsthand. Which really only makes it harder on me because I feel guilty for having a reaction and that guilt just fosters terrible emotions.
I have seen a therapist about this and some of the best advice I got from her was to write him a letter. I don’t know his name, so it’s addressed to blank. My mom said I should have addressed it to asshole J but I thought I’d share it here because we were quite lucky. My mom’s story had a happy ending. My dad was one of the people who helped her the most in the immediate aftermath and it’s actually how they became close. But even though we were blessed that it worked out, it is still so tough to deal with.
Dear _________ ,
You don’t know me. You probably will never know me. But I know you. You raped my mother. The woman who has dedicated her life to God, her children and husband, and giving to others. The woman who did absolutely nothing to deserve to be treated like that. You forced yourself on her. You had a difficult life and you decided to take it out on a stranger. You might have reasons or excuses to give me. But it was over 20 years ago so I wonder how much you even remember. I don’t even know if I want to hear them. Anything you say won’t make sense to me because in my mind, you can’t justify what you did.
I think you should know the pain and suffering you caused my mother and my family. Her pelvic muscles were contracted because she didn’t want you. Her body tried so hard to reject you yet you persisted. And because of the trauma she suffered those muscles stayed contracted for over 20 years. One thing lead to another and her central nervous system collapsed. She lived in excruciating pain 24/7. Eventually doctors put her on bed rest and told her she would never be able to sit again. She stayed on bed rest for 8 months. 8 months of missed sporting events. 8 months of missed family outings and vacations. 8 months of me missing my mom that I can never get back.
But my mom is not someone who accepts news like that. She wasn’t about to let you take her life, then and now. What you did does not define her. With a good support group around her, she overcame the adversity that you put on her. She now is just in constant pain that she learned to live with instead of unbearable pain. She can walk, sit, and even exercise. And somehow through all this she has forgiven you. She has had a lot of time to forgive and she has found it in herself to give you a chance. This just proves how honorable she is. I haven’t had that time yet. Right now I’m angry, sad, confused, and just disbelieving. Why did you do it? I want to know what you were thinking. I want to know how you rationalized what you did, or if you even thought at all. I have so many questions that you might have answers to. But I cannot ask.
Eventually, I will forgive you. But today is not that day. Today I am still trying to be able to hear the word ‘rape’ and not freeze up or break down. I do truly hope that you did feel remorseful and have realized what you’ve done. And as a military member, you have a duty to our country to PROTECT its citizens, not harm them. I hope you know that now.
And most importantly, my mom was not your victim. She is the strongest and bravest woman I know and she stayed so calm and level headed during your attack. I don’t know if you would have actually killed her if you had the chance. But I do know that she would have gotten out of it. My mom is a survivor.