Self

To My Fellow Sexual Assault Survivors: It's Time We Share Our Stories

Photo: Tinnakorn jorruang / Shutterstock
woman with hand up

By Hayley Paquin

The following piece is dedicated to anyone surviving through the aftermath of sexual assault. Some of this content may be triggering, so please consider that before reading. Thank you.

How dare you look at me like I’m nothing more than a meal? How dare you graze on me like a cow in a field, pushing and fighting me, disregarding the “no trespassing” sign that clings to my body?

You etched your touch into my skin. Why did you continue to treat me as nothing? I tried demanding an intermission to this awful performance, but there was only an encore.

I’m not here to give you any good credit or attention. Don’t flatter yourself.

I’m not writing this for you but for them. For others who have felt the same pain I have. For those who have been violated the way I have. And for those who felt like they lost their voice trying to use it in the most critical moment.

RELATED: 13 Powerful Quotes For Anyone Who's Experienced Sexual Assault And Victim Shaming

I’m here to bring attention to what you did and how you got away with it.

You successfully made me feel like less of a human. Worse than that, you made me feel useless.

I thought I could trust you because you were someone I knew. I thought you wouldn’t hurt me because we were friends. But I was wrong.

Before I knew it, I told you to stop, and you just held down my arms. I told you, “no,” and you used it as an invitation and an RSVP with no regrets, right there on the bed.

I learned a lot from you that day. It was the day you left me on your bed, shaking and in tears. The day you listened to my voice skip like a broken record while my “no” played on repeat.

You still looked at me like an object, like a punching bag. I learned that you were just too weak to let a woman win. I learned your thoughts were too loud to hear me tell you to stop.

When I left your house that day, I kept thinking to myself, “What did I do to make you think this was okay? Was it the fact that I came over to hang out? Was it me sitting down on the edge of the bed? Or was it the sweatpants I had on?”

It was none of that: It was you.

As I drove home after my identity was torn from my body, I thought of you. Every time I turned the wheel, I’d grip it a little tighter because I didn’t feel like I had a grip on myself.

Advertisement Need someone to talk to? Get support from a licensed therapist at BetterHelp. Sign up today and get 15% off!

I thought about you as tears rolled down my face while talking to the officer who reassured me it wasn’t me. She was right. It was you.

RELATED: The Secret Fantasy Life Of A Sexual Assault Victim

I felt so lost in my own body as I walked up the stairs in my house. My clothes felt foreign, imprinted with your touch. My T-shirt wrinkled from the grip you had on it.

Once I got into the shower, I watched the water fall and collect in the tub as your unwanted touch spiraled down the drain.

I’m mad that you watched me cry and never said a word. You looked me in the eyes as I left and never said one thing.

I’m mad, but I thank you for that — those marks were only temporary tattoos, and they washed down the drain in my shower that day.

Words stick forever, just like memories do, so I’m grateful you never said anything. That would have been an added song to this awful playlist in my mind.

I hope you know that I am stronger than you.

Now I have to live life knowing someone took my sense of safety away from me. I have to walk around knowing my body isn’t always worshiped like a holy place the way it should be.

It takes a lot to survive from that, day in and day out. You’ve printed the label “victim” onto me in society’s eyes. You’ve put such a heavy burden on my shoulders, and it weighs down my arms, and yet I still walk around with my head held high.

This is something that will follow me forever. This is a constant thought that comes into my head.

I am not thinking about what you did to me, but what you might do to others. What others like you have done to people like me.

I am better than you, and I am stronger than the word “victim.” I am a voice, and you will hear my words now.

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, violence or exploitation, please know that hope and healing are possible. For support, reach out to groups like RAINN at 1-800-656-4673, 1 in 6 (an organization for male survivors with a 24/7 live chat), or a local support professional.

RELATED: Victim Vs. Survivor: Why The Words You Choose To Use Matter

Hayley Paquin is a writer and contributor to Unwritten with the goal to give a voice to those who might not be able to find the words. Visit her author profile for more.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.