The room seemed a lot smaller then. My hands were sweating, shoulders and neck grew tense as the weight of that ugly truth hovered over my head... Making eye contact with them was nearly impossible not to mention uttering the words I had been avoiding for years. You know—the words that sound ugly no matter how I told the story.
“I just have to say it...straight to the point, and be done with it.” (I would say to myself). I practiced in front of my bedroom mirror, at times I would recite a made-up script of how to better say that “I was raped.”
Whether it was expressed to my parents, siblings, close friends or significant other....this was always the hardest part of myself I had to face with any of my existing relationships. It took seven years for me to tell my family, and the rest have only read of my experience through this blog.
After being rejected by the justice system (my case was dropped after I decided to press charges), ignored by my university, I couldn’t bare to face the same type of rejection and judgment from the ones closest to me. However, by God’s care and grace...I was one of the lucky ones. My family hurt with me, whether in person or in silence; but their hurt never exceeded to their judgment of me. Unfortunately, there are so many people who WANT to speak up, but because of circumstances, they cannot. I know women who have been harassed at work who have not told their employer because they fear they might lose their job. I know survivors who fear being rejected from their own families because the person who assaulted them is considered “a man of God, or it will break up the family.” The uglier truth behind surviving sexual assault and abuse are the potential societal repercussions for speaking up in first place.
When I decided to tell my immediate family about being raped my freshman year of college, I felt emotionally complacent. I was stuck in the decision of moving on with my life like nothing ever happened or disrupting the facade I had presented in front of them for years.
I made my decision because God told He was doing a NEW thing in me...He was taking me “out of my Egypt” and I couldn’t be enslaved by the shackles of my past or what my past told me about myself. I had to cross over...and I had to do so in the new season of my life God was now taking me into. It was a month prior to me graduating from college, when I knew I had to tell them. Deep down I needed them to know why this was more than me receiving my diploma. I hurt by myself for years, and I wanted to heal with them by my side. It was a moment I needed to receive in my most honest state, flaws, imperfections, and all!
I told each one of my four loving brothers one by one, I spoke to my grandmother, Godmother, and parents face to face. And once I did, a little bit of me came back. It didn’t erase the pain, it didn’t keep the man who raped me in jail, it didn’t take back the semesters of harassment I received from the football team or give me back the hours of therapy, tears or moments of self-hate. I wore my scars and I knew them by name. This time, I could show them to the ones I loved and let them know I was okay...I could show them that I did something despite my fear, and graduating in front of them was the greatest honor I could receive; the honor of graduating in front of the individuals who (whether they knew it or now) helped me get to that moment by loving me before, during and after my experience.
Love set me free to speak my truth. God loved me enough to survive the pain, and I loved myself enough to tell it; because for me, my story wasn’t just for me to know...and I knew in order to tell you all, whoever you may be, I had to face the ones who knew me best.
Having done so I will say that today, I am happier, I am set free, I no longer hide behind lies or torment myself for what I had no control over. I have my moments when my mind would rather fall victim. I too, experience those moments where I want to be completely isolated from the world. I am just grateful that God placed the right people in my life to respect the moments I do, and know when to pull me out.
Be patient in your process. Standing up and speaking out doesn’t have to look like my story or anyone else’s you hear in the headlines. Your truth is yours; and you can heal past it. We pray and hope you know you can always find space to share your story here, if you so choose. Regardless, know that we are here supporting you and inspired by who you are—a SURVIVOR.
With love and solidarity,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.