An open letter to my rapist
I originally wanted to say “to the man who raped me” but I don’t think I could give you the title of man when I know a real man would never do what you have done.
I wonder if you think of me, if you remember that night in such vivid detail that you could recall the scent of my skin. Do I rent space in your head? You have been a squatter in the abandoned part of my mind; the part I want to condemn and tear down but there you are ignoring my eviction notice not allowing me to move completely forward. I have built a beautiful city of dreams and accomplishments around the slum you live in that’s called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I put up a tall wall so no one in my life has to see you, and see the damage you have done.
Did your life change that night too? Do you carry that night like a dirty secret or badge of honor? Are you ashamed like me? Did that night teach you how easy it was to make someone a victim because it showed me how easy it was to become a victim. I thought I was always too strong, too prepared, too sheltered to be a victim. I thought that somehow I and the people close to me were the exception to the statistic. You taught me that the world can be a scary place and my mind could become even scarier than the world around me. It feels like you stole a piece of me. Not just my virginity but how I view my body, my naivety, my sense of safety, my confidence, my relationships, my trust, my control and the quiet part of my mind. You replaced all these things with fear, sadness, shame and anger, then left the rest empty to be filled up by overthinking and social stigma.
Do you wish you could take back your actions? Are you sorry? I don’t know if a plea for forgiveness would mean anything to me, but a part of me still wonders. Do you see my face when you look at strangers because sometimes I see yours?
I thought what you did to me made me weak but I have come to realize I am stronger than I could have ever imagined. They say rape is about power and I now believe that is true. You have showed me a sense of power I never knew I had. I never thought I could function on so little sleep. I never thought I was capable of such resilience. I never knew I could fight off demons meant to destroy me. I never thought that I could make a difference in others’ lives/recovery. I never knew that my voice could echo so loud it could be heard around the world. I am sure this wasn’t your intent. I thought you took away my voice too but I’ve found it again; does that scare you? Out of your darkness I have emerged a new version of myself; at the beginning I couldn’t recognize her. She was molded from violence and violation and she will not shrink back into the scared girl you knew that night. You may have broken me but you didn’t destroy me. I haven’t stopped fighting since that night. First I fought for my sanity, then I fought to find happiness, I still fight everyday against the damage you have done but now I fight for others too. I may only be one person but I am one of many who will continue to fight against the atrocities you and monsters like you commit. Our light will shine brightest when faced with your darkness until the whole world glows with the empathy it so desperately needs.