Cross-listed with S&M: Anonymous, Not Monogamous
Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the day that a stranger appeared suddenly in my life and changed the trajectory of my future. He and I are not celebrating this anniversary with a romantic dinner, a getaway weekend, or love-making. He and I do not even know each other. He probably doesn’t commemorate the first and last time we met like I do. I’m sure he has not lost sleep over thinking about me, is not haunted by my memory – I may even just have been one of many for him, but I will never know.
Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the day that a stranger raped me. The day that I was unwillingly committed to a lifelong relationship with a memory of a human being, a memory of an experience. The day that I tried to bury deep into my mind, to deny to myself and others for over a year afterwards. The day that spiraled me into sixteen months of celibacy and years of shame, self-hatred, self-neglect. The day that sent me literally and figuratively running. The day that far too many women and girls can relate to.
Yesterday was also a benchmark of empowerment. Over the past four years, I have slowly but surely begun to learn from this experience of sexual violence. And while I still have a long road of progress ahead of me, I can finally claim some more uplifting conclusions. The one thing I have thought about the most is that while I did not choose this experience, I DO choose how I react to it, and how I would like to move forward in my life with this memory. So although this realization unfolded (quite) slowly over the past four years, I can finally fully appreciate the fact that while I cannot nor have not been able to fully control what another person does to my body, I can always control what another person does to my mind.
It is essential that women who share this experience feel they can openly speak about it – even if it’s just with a friend. I am unbelievably lucky to have a few people in my life who are incredibly compassionate, patient, and understanding – and I honestly do not think I would have been at this point (blogging about my experience) if it had not been for this nurturing environment conducive to openness. That same environment on a societal level is close to nonexistent. While there are some amazing organizations out there aimed at various issues involving rape culture, there is a massively gaping hole in which the majority of society’s disinterest falls into. There is a blurry line between being apathetic and being a bystander to injustices.
The word “anniversary” was actually first used to signify the day of a person’s death (“returning annually”), and the word is now used to celebrate a happy past event that occurred on the same day. If you have experienced sexual violence, this is how I would like for you to think of what happened – as both a mourning and a celebration, an allowance of overlap that neither denies your suffering nor your fortitude. Because for me, there is absolutely a part of my mind and heart that needs to mourn what happened to me; but the other part of me wants to celebrate the fact that I am a survivor, that I am a strong woman choosing to move forwardwhile carrying this memory.
SO, happy anniversary rapist, and thank you for choosing the month of April so I can celebrate SAAM ironically. Today alone, 600 women will probably experience sexual violence, marking 600 new “anniversaries” without “proposals” (thank you NOW).
Unlike millions of women, YOU have a choice. Become active today, because tomorrow is always too late.