On September 17, 2020, it will have been 9 years since my rape. 9 years.
This also means that I have been out of college for 5 years. Longer than I was in.
A 9 year old child is in third grade. They know how to read and many of them can do long division. 9 years isn’t nothing. It’s the difference between being a fresh faced girl who had just turned 18, to a married, 27 year old woman.
5 years ago, I didn’t think I would make it to graduation, and yet here I am. A lot has changed in those 9 years and in those 5. Both for me and in the world. On September 17, 2011, rape was largely swept under the rug, today it often still is, but with the rise of the #metoo movement things are changing.
Presently, the past few weeks for me have meant a lot of reflection. Reflection on what happened to me, how I have changed, and how my life has changed since going public and publishing my book about my rape and recovery.
With releasing my book, I’ve received a good amount of trolling and hate across social media. I could handle the Facebook comment tirade (on a Daily Mail article about my rape) with multiple participants discussing how my front teeth are too big, but having people comment online and/ or find my profiles and send hate towards me is not something I think I’ll get used to, but I’ve been learning to tune that out and not read the comments.
I even turned off comments on this blog after I wrote a post about the 7 year anniversary of my rape and someone felt the need to comment that I had “only suffered for 7 years” and “many people have it worse than you.” Pain is not a contest.
Yet, even with the negativity, it’s been really affirming having people contact me to say how much my story has helped them. This helps remind me of why I did this in the first place. Big teeth and all.
I truly can’t believe it’s been 9 years and 5 since I got help. I couldn’t have imagined in 2015 what would happen over these 5 years.
A whole smattering of life changes, big and small
Graduated from college and graduate school. Entering my 6th year of teaching. Married. Cat, fish, and gecko mom. Jam maker and chef extraordinaire.
Sharing my Story
It was hard to share this story not just with with the world, but with family and friends. Some are supportive. Some not so much. One friend was upset that my book has humor. That's just my personality. And would anyone want to read a book that is 100% doom and gloom?!?
And with the way publishing works, I wrote my book over 3 years ago now (most of it anyway) so at this point it’s almost hard to remember what’s in it. When I wrote it, I was 23, in grad school, had been dating my now husband for just a little over a year, and still very lost.
Writing my book gave me back my voice and true ownership of my story.
What it's Like for me to Read my Book
Recently, during a (virtual) guest lecture a student asked me a question about Kelly and it was silent for a few seconds as I literally thought... who’s Kelly? Then I felt pretty dense when I remembered that’s what I renamed my therapist. So, I’ve been reading the book for the first time in a while (so I don’t have another awkward moment in a lecture or otherwise) and I’m removed enough now that for the first time I’m really seeing how truly messed up it all was from a somewhat outside perspective.
I guess writing it all out all those years ago and the passage of time has changed things. The rape itself used to be hard to not think about and the timeline of events that happened afterward were memories that I made myself cling to.
I used to make myself think of everything that happened over those years constantly because I was afraid that if I forgot any of the details then it would all be lost and truly wouldn’t matter, as I was the only person who knew it all and was carrying all. Now I don’t have to think of it all the time and it’s how I imagine other people looking back on college and not remember everything.
And re-reading/re-remembering has definitely been an interesting and sad experience.
What's in the Book
I’m also a bit shocked at everything I chose to include and how raw my book is. It literally has everything. Every moment, every mistake, and every victory. I decided when my book was going to be published that it NEEDED to have it all because it’s all important to my story and I think it’s the “awkward”/”embarrassing” things that people can relate to. I don’t want anyone who has experienced what I went through to feel alone and the more I included, the more I felt I could reach people and if I felt embarrassed then others may feel that way too and we don’t have to! We didn’t do anything wrong. The more we talk about these difficult subjects, the easier it gets…. at least for me.
And I needed to include what it’s like to leave home for college. To make and lose friends. To try and fit in and lose yourself. To try and regain control of your life. To try every dangerous thing imaginable to try and cope and to realize even if you’re not committing suicide you are killing yourself. It’s all in black and white on those pages.
And I'm still here.
Last year, September 17, 2019 was just a day. Some years it affects me more than others. Maybe I’ll be sad and reflective. Maybe it’ll just be like any other Thursday.
9 years later.
It gets easier. It also gets harder. Then it gets easier again.
9 years. Let's see what the next 9 will bring and beyond.