It took years for me to openly discuss the violation of what happened to me at 18 when a man grabbed me, placing a knife to my neck, breaking my panty hose, raising my skirt, and fisting me while licking my face with spit and saliva. It took years to get his smell off me, his words out of my head, and feel that my vagina and all its parts were not dirty. To this day I can still be transported back to that moment when I smell bad breath or tooth decay in someone but it doesn’t affect me the way it did for so long.
I was 36 years old when I finally said it out loud. “I was violently raped. I am not disgusting. I am not unlovable. I am a sexy woman who had an experience that ultimately changed her life.” Like millions of others I have decided not to use it as a weakness. I survived that and many other events in this lifetime. It was in my forties that I began to embrace the lessons rape taught me.
- I had female issues all of my life. I had horrific periods, cysts, and breast problems. I had my uterus removed at age 39. And, even though I was done with having children after raising six of them, I still felt a loss. I was less of a woman. I began to think of my vagina and counterparts as a monster. My womanhood was a curse rather than a blessing. I couldn’t make peace with my sexuality. In my forties I began to feel like I had never felt before. I left a destructive relationship of many years that had continued the emotional abuse and manipulation that the rape had started. I began to embrace the woman without all the stigma I had attached to my femininity. Wisdom comes with age.
- I am not my body. I began to find spirituality, self-love and acceptance. Somewhere in my forties I didn’t think of the rape. I no longer had nightmares waking up in a cold sweat seeing the cratered-face man with curly hair coming after me with a knife. My worst fear had already happened. I wouldn’t attract that kind of behavior ever again through a constant fear based thought process. I would not be attracted to dominating narcissistic men. Whatever we give power and thought continues to unfold. We attract through fear.
- Something happens to people who have been abused: they begin to come across others. In my forties, after buying a retreat center with my best friend, I began to notice many women walking into our office with the same distinctive marking. I could tell by the body language that they had been molested or raped. There’s something left behind in an abused person. It’s a trademark that follows us around. Some people (men or women) allow the act to determine who they become. I have chosen to hold my head up high and not fear intimacy with anyone. The rape took my body, it destroyed my worth, but it also made me realize how compassionate people are with one another when I opened up.
- Rape is a physical act that heals but the mind shelters this and creates a victimization attitude. I am not a victim. I am a survivor. I shifted the perception of this violence. I also made sure that it did not lead my future relationships.
- I no longer use my body or my sexuality to entice someone. I didn’t really know what an intimate relationship was until my 40’s. It had less to do with sex and more to do with truth and openness. Making love was truly not a sexual moment but a transcending act between two souls.
- I forgave myself for what happened. For many years I believed that I got attacked because I was curious. I heard something fall behind the mail room in our office after hours on a Friday evening. I blamed myself for this curious gene until one day I came to realize that curiosity is not to be blamed. It happened. I survived. We are past this point of holding on to the past.
- Mind, body and spirit are united to carry us through everything we do in our time lines. The attacker was someone’s son. He once had a childhood. He was a miserable man who needed to take a woman’s power through abusive control. But, we will forever be connected because of that event. Our paths crossed through an inconceivable act and he might never think of that young woman exposed and raw but I have sent him love through many meditations when I feel my self-worth start to shake.
- Finally, I no longer walk around looking at everything around me. I am oblivious to my surroundings. I don’t think about it…I just move through life with a desire to love and enjoy others. I didn’t feel this in my 20’s or 30’s. I felt fragile even though I was strong and brave.
We all wear scars, some visibly while others deep seated inside our soul. Only we know of their existence. When we are ready to share with another the scars seem to heal slowly. Those scars are road maps to the past. They can guide us with strength onto the next journey. The scar from the violence at 18 sat in silence for too long. It wasn’t until I allowed the secret to come out that I began to heal. I choose not to play the role of victim but survivor. We all survive with dignity and carry those battle scars with pride, or we can play the martyr and victim creating a story for the rest of our life. There is nothing perfect in this world.
You are not your rape. No human being deserves the fear that lives after this atrocious event. The scars live inside. They heal. But, it’s up to you to truly let it go. Forgive yourself…forgive the person who stole a part of your essence. By forgiving the person you return to your power and authentic truth. You find purpose for living. They no longer have it. Also, there is no greater power than your word. Share with another. There’s no shame for what happened to you. I am a better person, courageous, and opened because of this act. Now in my late 40’s I realize how detrimental this crime was for me to become this woman. You are not your sex. You are your power.
Life is to be attended through the joy and contentment of this beautiful journey. In the end, those are the moments that will carry you through the path of least resistance. Find the balance between the past and the present. Today, you are magnificent because of the challenges, atrocities, and scars.