An Open Letter To My Former Self, The Morning After I Was Raped

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sad woman in dark

Dear Me,

Last night, it happened. No matter how much you wanted to pretend that it didn't (and tried to close your eyes to make the memory disappear) it still happened.

And you knew this because when you closed your eyes, you could still see his face, clear as day; yet at the same time, a million miles away in a memory that must have involved someone else — someone who wasn't you.

But it was you, and all the water in the shower — the water that had started out warm and eventually turned ice cold — couldn't wash his scent from your memory or his touch from your skin. You could still feel his hot breath on your neck, even with the water beating down; water that made you shiver, and oddly comforted you.

What comes next? What are you supposed to do now? Where do you go from here? Do you tell someone?

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You can't tell anyone. You couldn't let anyone know what happened to you, what someone did to you, because what will people think of you? You aren't the kind of girl who gets raped.

You watched the water go down the drain and hoped that the memories would go with it, washed away from daylight, never to be seen again. Taking with it the pain, the hurt.

But it didn't, and eventually you had to get out. Out of the shower, and back into life. Your life — your new life. Because that is what started that day, even if you didn't understand it then.

It may have felt like your life was over, but it was really just beginning. It was the day that broke your heart, threatened your spirit, and changed your life.

Last night you were a victim but that day, the morning after, you became a survivor.

Over the years those two identities would intermingle with each other, each one taking center stage in your life at different periods of time. But the one thing that never changed was that you never went back to "just" being a victim.

No matter how much of a victim you were, you were still always a survivor. Because you did, in fact, survive.

And you did more than just survive — you thrived. Not much at first, and then only just a little at a time, and sometimes it felt like you weren't moving at all, but you were.

You were always moving, changing and surviving. You found your strength and you found your voice. You found your meaning. You were finding you.

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You realized no matter what someone took from you, you would always be so much more than that because you were a survivor, and survivors are strong. You are strong.

You persevered, even when you didn't want to because that is what survivors do, and that is who you are. And you know you weren't the only one.

Many women had gone before you, and many women would come after you. You felt so alone, but over time you realized that you were never really alone, ever.

You were part of the club that no one wants to join and no one really wants to talk about, but one that carries no shame, because you did nothing wrong.

Someone raped you, but it wasn't your fault.

Over the years you will grapple with everything that happened and question every choice you made. But none of that matters, because the only choice that is of any relevance is the one that someone made for you. When someone chose to rape you.

And this was not your fault — oh, honey, this was never your fault. And if I could go back and tell you one thing — one thing that would have made all the difference in the world — it would be to remind you, every second and with every heartbeat, that this was not your fault.

This was not your fault.

This was not your fault.

Turn off the water because you can't wash this away, but that doesn't mean that you're dirty or damaged; it means you're amazing, because you survived. You survived because you're a survivor.

You will go on, because you're a survivor.


Your Future Self

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment, assault and/or abuse, you are not alone. Visit for resources or call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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Eden Strong is a regular contributor to many different sites such as Lifetime Moms, XOJane, Scary Mommy, Catster, and Dogster. Follow her on her website.