When your rapist comes back to town

*Trigger warning*

As I’ve written before, I’m a sexual assault survivor. It’s been four years and my recovery is an ongoing struggle. I think that while the waters got very rough for a while, it’s been smooth sailing for me for quite some time now. I’ve had a couple of triggering moments in the past year, like reading comments and articles by people who aren’t very enlightened around issues of sexual assault, and observing victim blaming from so-called allies. And recently, I learned that my rapist is back living in my city.

When your bubble of personal safety has been burst as the result of a violent crime, as mine was, you are hyper vigilant for a time – or until the end of time. I am proactive in creating a safe environment for myself. But as we have written here over and over again, creating a safe environment doesn’t prevent assault. Having experienced that harsh reality first hand, at times, I find myself in fear (intense fear at times) of another assault.

Realizing that the man who stole your joy for a time may live up the street is a daunting realization and one that yesterday I realized scares the shit out of me. Do I inquire about getting a permit for a weapon? Do I learn more advanced self defense techniques? Does it scare me more that neither of these options will ultimately protect me from a man who makes the decision to assault me? My mind goes through a million different scenarios all at once.

And again I am reminded just how fragile the invisible safety bubble we invent is and how the perception that something bad won’t happen to you is misguided.

All of this is happening during a week where my brain is also processing XXL’s decision to run a video starring Too $hort teaching middle school boys how to commit sexual assault, Chris Brown being welcomed back to the Grammys as if Rihanna did this her face all by herself, Virginia literally trying to pass a bill that rapes women with a foreign object, the assertion that women in the military should “expect” to be raped, and the Republican party voting against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

It has been a triggering week to say the least. TGIF.

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