Sexual Assault: The Ugly Truth You Didn’t Want to Hear

Sexual assault is not pretty.

It is nothing like what we see on TV. It isn’t a random stranger attacking you in a park at night and it doesn’t end with justice. The victim doesn’t go back to her normal life since her attacker is locked up. There is no Detective Benson and Stabler to comfort you while they solve the crime.

No. This is real life and most likely, your attacker will go free. Sexual assault is ugly. It is brutal. It’s not a stranger; it is your neighbor, your boss, your friend or acquaintance. It is waking up not knowing where you are, why your insides ache, why you are naked. It is staring at a bruise on the inside of your thigh and wishing you could die right there.

It is being repulsed by your own body and wishing you could disconnect from it. It is the unbearable blame that you place on yourself and that others place on you.

It is embarrassment, it is shame that burns to your core. It is not going to the police or the hospital because you know no one will believe you. It is waking up every day and having to pick up the pieces of your shattered soul.

There is no resolve when it comes to rape.

It is not something you ever get over or get through; it stays with you. It haunts you and stalks you. You see his face on a stranger; you hear his voice in the silence. He is everywhere, reminding you of what he took from you.

He’s a monster. He is a cold, dead soul walking around in a man’s body. He is a thief, a predator. He is a wolf seeking out his prey. You are his prey. He sees you and salivates. He does not see your worth, your spirit, or your humanity. He only sees a body.

Healing from assault is not something that is ever complete. It is a constant battle against your thoughts, your feelings, your nightmares, and flashbacks. Being assaulted is having your heart crushed. In a few moments, all that you thought you knew about life and the world is destroyed, along with any sense of safety, self-worth, and belonging you once had.

In one fell swoop, a man comes into your life and, like a hurricane, engulfs and destroys all he touches. 

There is healing in knowing other women who have experienced what you have, and there is healing in others knowing your story, even if they do not relate to it. I have felt both of these things and it has helped shape me into the person I am now. Other women who have survived an assault have held me up through the dizzying days, encouraged me to continue on this path that none of us chose, and have been the strength I needed when it was unbearable. I have grown immensely since my assault, and I thank God I have come out on the other side.

But I am not healed. I am not past it. And I sure as hell do not forgive him. I can’t walk through a parking garage without my keys between my fingers and my eyes darting in every direction. I can’t be alone in an elevator with a man without feeling like my heart is going to pound through my chest. I can’t make eye contact with a man on the street without feeling defensive. I constantly look over my shoulder when I go for a run. I hate being home alone, especially at night. I take my phone with me any time I go to the bathroom at a restaurant or bar. I take the long way to my building so I don’t have to walk by the group of men that hang around outside.

He took my sense of security. He wrecked my world. He used my drunk, lifeless body for temporary pleasure. I’m sure he hasn’t thought twice about it since that night. I’m sure it hasn’t impacted his life, his relationships, or his everyday interactions with other people. I’m sure he has forgotten all about it by now.

I haven’t forgotten.

I will carry those moments with me my whole life. His face is imprinted in my mind and those indescribable memories will not fade. All I can do is remain open and hope that my story can alter someone else’s for the better. I want to be raw and real so that others can see the impacts and devastation caused by assault and rape. I want to help those who haven’t experienced this to grasp the lasting effects it has on survivors.

Talking openly about your assault is hard. It’s personal and intrusive and uncomfortable, but it can’t go ignored.  We owe our daughters a world where they can walk to the store without being harassed, where they can go to school without being sent home because a male teacher couldn’t handle seeing their knees or their shoulders. We owe them a world where they can grow and flourish and be empowered and feel safe. So I will keep talking about it and continue this conversation, because no one should ever have to endure the inexplicable pain that comes with sexual assault.

by Courteny Morgan

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