Eight years have passed since I woke up beside you. The sun was coming through your bedroom and I was still drunk from the night before. I then started to panic when I realised.
You raped me.
That night turned my world upside down. My self-worth, trust in anyone and even worse the trust I had in myself was gone. There was nothing left, leaving me a shell of what I once was. Let me be completely clear – I will never forgive you for the damage you have done. My life was immobilised in that moment and that affected the best part of a decade for me.
I was a shy, timid teenager when you took me to your place. I was very naive to the world and the danger you would put me in. You had no right nor did I give you any reason to do what you did to me. Surprisingly, I take comfort in the fact that this experience has changed your life too. I remember the tough image you portrayed to the court while surrounded by your people, then being told that you were in uncontrollable tears when the police retrieved your computer and bedding. The news brought a smile to my face. The system may have failed me but it gave you the shock you needed.
It’s interesting that this experience made me feel again. I had endured years of depression and anxiety which made me feel numb. After you raped me I experienced a whole range of emotions. Suddenly I was ashamed at you, myself and there were times I didn’t want to be here anymore. My body still bears the scars. While a horrible experience, being able to feel anything is liberating.
I want to thank you for giving me direction to what I wanted from life. I spent a long time isolating myself from everything after you raped me. But it gave me the time I needed to understand me. Thank you for giving me a greater appreciation of music. Music has always been a big part of my life. After you raped me, music was my outlet. I was introduced to the power of Tori Amos’ lyrics. I listened with awe to Above and Beyond. I have such a respect for how artists can encapsulate a moment, feeling or thought and convey that in a meaning that people can relate to.
I found valuing quality time with close friends and family became very important to me. My friendship circle became only the highest quality. The conversations I had with people about why I felt our friendships had run their course were difficult though not having them would have been more difficult.
I discovered new interests; ones which fulfilled both mental and physical needs. I started running as a given in my routine. For 30 minutes, four times a week, I don’t think. I lose myself in my music as my feet hit the ground on every beat. It does wonders feeling in control of my mind and body.
I’m writing thank you a lot to you – maybe ‘thank you’ is the wrong choice of words – rather I’m grateful to you for allowing myself to see a side of me I hadn’t seen before.
This experience gave me greater confidence to actively pursue the things in life that made me happy. It made me realise I needed to start living again. Recovering from rape is a hauntingly lonely experience and I am so proud of the life changing journey since. I refuse to let you win.
*Words by Matt W.