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One Day, One Year

A Year After a Traumatic Incident

Photo by Miguel Bruna 

Have you ever felt like the world was on top of your shoulders? You could be standing up tall, but still have difficulty breathing. No matter how many times someone told you, “it gets better” nothing ever changed. So, what creates change? Is it actions alone, words alone, or actions and words together? Does one person create change? Or do we have to work together?

Exactly one year ago I fell below rock bottom. We all know the story, I was physically going through a miscarriage, while simultaneously being sexually assaulted. I know, just reading that sounds horrid, imagine living it. What happened between then and now? Did anything change? Who or what created that change?

Am I digging up the past or am I still trying to get to the top of the mountain? I guess it all depends on how you look at the situation. To me, I’m still trying to get through this. To most people, they see me as the criminal while the false victim gets praised. How do you help someone dealing with this kind of trauma? What do you say to people who want to take their own lives because they were raped? Because they can’t afford the hospital bills? Even though they were promised a rape kit would be tested that didn’t actually happen. Because they are being blamed and are expected to be responsible for someone else’s actions.

Do you know what people say, even a year after the incident? “That’s normal, every victim goes through that. Just try to find someone who believes you and is willing to stand by your side while everyone else is against you.”

A year ago today I was extremely suicidal. I had vivid hallucinations of the incident and his family. I couldn’t go to certain places anymore without being bullied. I had people telling me to kill myself. I wrote pages and pages of suicide notes. I lost my child. I lost the love of my life (or so I thought). I lost my friends. I lost my support system. I had to start all over again. I resorted back to self harm. I thought I wasn’t going to make it out alive. Let me rephrase that, I didn’t want to make it out alive. I thought my only purpose of me being on this planet was for people to use me for my body, since it’s happened so many times.

Then I received the professional help that I required. I learned about forgiveness. And even though I forgive him, I don’t even talk to him anymore. We aren’t friends again. I keep my distance. I think that’s the cool thing about forgiveness, just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do any more than that. You don’t have to have a relationship with that person ever again. You don’t have to praise them. But most importantly, forgiveness is more for yourself and it does not excuse the wrong acts that were done.

“You will bleed for what your hands have done

You can't outrun your ending

And I'll get well long before you let yourself

I may forgive you, but you never will

I will not bend until I break, how much can one bruised body take?

Just not enough to silence me, you're only a memory

I'll scream these words 'til they come true, then I will think no more of you

Look back on what I'm going through, this isn't my identity”

And unfortunately there are days I still have flashbacks. There are days where I’m scared to go out in public without being attacked or bullied. I’m still currently fighting hospital bills from a year ago. Because I know that what happened to me isn’t my identity, and I deserve to be treated like a human being. But I’ve gotten better. It’s not an everyday feeling of anxiety. In fact these instances don’t even happen once a week. I have made progress.

I think what got to me the most was I felt I don’t deserve my current pregnancy; that I was going to have another miscarriage starting the week of April 29, but in 2019, just like how it happened in 2018. I thought I was going to lose this child because the world still had something to teach me from last year. And for those reading this who are close to me probably thinking, “Why didn’t you tell me you felt this way?” It’s probably because I didn’t want to get talked out of what I was feeling. The world would let me know what needs to happen. And I am ever so thankful that I still have my little one.

But what happened to him? I have no idea. I don’t check in on him, I don’t hear from his family. All I hear are the rumors still swimming in the atmosphere. I’ve been told I ruined his brother’s life along with his. Since two out of three brothers committed crimes of sexual violence, I heard people automatically assumed that must mean the third one did too. So I deserve to be hated because I exposed the lies of one brother. And here’s what I have to say to that, I am not my family. He is not his brothers. But I cannot be held responsible for someone else’s actions. I don’t even believe any of the family should be bullied. Sure, I believe those responsible for the crimes should undergo some type of punishment. But it’s not my job to condemn them or tell them what their punishment is. But I know it certainly isn’t bullying them.

“And I told you, I told you, you had no right

How damaged you must be

Watch you panic, it's tragic, you'll carry this for life

You have my sympathy”

Was it wrong for me to share my story and what happened to me? I believe it goes both ways. No, I shouldn’t be silenced and I believe people have the right to know about what goes on in their communities and what we can do to prevent it from happening again, but maybe I did it in the wrong way. Maybe I didn’t speak clearly enough. Maybe I was too caught up in my emotions and trauma at the time when I came forward about the incident. Maybe I could’ve given myself more than three days to think it through.

But when I talk to victims now, I tell them what I learned. I show them how I got better. I explain what forgiveness is and how it works. And the choice to forgive is completely up to you. I recommend to be cautious, but don’t hate or attack everyone in their sight. I offer coping mechanisms and other resources. We all heal in our own ways and we rely on support systems to heal. Reach out to me and I will reach out to you. I will help you find that support system. You won’t go go through this alone. But most importantly, I don’t just say, “It gets better.” I start a conversation that never ends.

“You're only a memory

This isn't my identity”

“Only a Memory” by Icon For Hire 

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