On the 7 Year Anniversary of my Rape
For a time I didn’t think I would make it this far. But here we are 7 years later and this year feels different than other years. September 17th is just a day to most people and I guess it is to me too. It’s also the day when in 2011 I was raped. It’s strange to write that out as a fact and it is just that. A fact about my life.
On the first anniversary, I was still very much in denial about what had happened and the day was a reminder of the trauma I refused to acknowledge. And that’s how it was for years.
Each year, I start to think about the rape toward the end of summer and I dread September 17th and what it means. August and beyond (for a time) was unbearable. I would count down the days and decide that once the 17th had past I would magically be ok.
I can’t say I don’t feel any shame or embarrassment regarding all that happened to me. I’m still working on being ok talking about it, but recently, people have really surprised me with their support. The first people I told all those years ago had reactions that hurt me and reinforced my belief that what happened was my fault. I have since learned that not everyone has harmful reactions and a harmful reaction is really just a poor reflection of the other person, not you.
For years this was a secret that I was so ashamed of because I truly believed that being raped was my fault. I felt that people would be disgusted if they knew and that they would blame me as well. I felt like I was ruined as a person and that my life had no value.
About two weeks ago, I “went public” about being raped and writing a book about my recovery. This year feels different because I’ve gone from maybe 5 people knowing about this to a lot more then 5 people knowing about this. The reaction has been one that I could have never imagined. People have reached out to me and shared their own struggles and experiences and it amazed me that we all struggle in silence thinking everyone else is doing better than us. Or that we are the only ones that have experienced sexual trauma.
Hearing the stories of others and how my own story has affected them has made me feel even more committed to my book and what I hope for it. I want to help others and give them the type of book I wish existed when I was 18.
I’ve worked hard to rebuild my life and in the past 7 years- I got my BS in early childhood
education, got my M.Ed in curriculum and teaching, and I just started my fourth year of teaching.
When things got dark, I didn’t die by suicide. I worked through the trauma and relearned how to trust people. AND (I’m not sure if I mentioned this) I wrote a book about what happened and I am so so so excited to share this story.
Not everyone has had the best reaction to me sharing this news, but I’m learning to be ok with this and not feel at fault.
I remember 5 years feeling like 5 years was a big deal and it was, because that was soon after I first started to deal with this and to feel like myself again. Year 6 was upsetting, but not unbearable. Year 7 feels like.... something.
I know September 17th will feel as weird and painful this year as ever, but my secret isn’t a secret anymore and I feel so much stronger now than 18 year old Laurie ever imagined.
Thanks for reading,