On Friday the 13th, so long ago, a girl was shot at a high school. A concert was playing at Red Rocks. And I was the victim of a rape.
As a writer and medical student, I have had the honor of sharing so many stories from patients and friends. I have written the human experience from perspectives so distant from my own. But in a time of need, when I turned to Google for understanding and for a voice of reason, I didn’t find what I was seeking.
Instead, I found responsibility, and I found a pen; I found myself tasked with writing the voice of reason and humor, compassion and understanding that I so desperately sought that lukewarm December night.
The following article is the original submission of my story to YourTango, unedited to remain authentic to my voice. Please read forward with humor and care, and remember how brightly a survivor now smiles this Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
41 Thoughts You Have After A Sexual Assault That No One Ever Talks About
Because it’s time we pull the shame out from beneath the foreskin of rape.
‘If you are a victim of sexual assault, you are not alone.’ Or so I heard about ten too many times after my sexual assault. ‘Others have been through worse.’ ‘So many men and women overcome this trauma.’ ‘You survived.’ As if rape is a rite of passage into womanhood!
Newsflash: IT ISN’T!
But what I didn’t hear, what no one would talk about, were the thoughts that come after the assault. And I’m not talking PTSD, panic in the mind and body after. Yes, those exist. Yes, they interfere with sex and self-esteem and life in general. And yes, so many people are out there sharing guidance for those issues, myself included. But what about the sexual thoughts that follow rape? And the thoughts of empowerment? What about every single aspect of life that this criminal has just thrown upside down as carelessly as he threw my body against the car door? Where are the advice columns for that?
Because, guess what? What he did to me was NOT okay; in fact, it was a crime! And yet, in losing control, in seeing sex through a demon’s eyes and from behind the blade of a knife, I came to be empowered. I came to speak my mind. And I came to a decision to finally share the 41 thoughts you have after a sexual assault that no one ever talks about. Because, let’s face it: the crime and not the reaction is the real shame.
1. They’ll call you a ‘survivor.’ They will say you are ‘so strong’ for fighting back, for getting away. They will say ‘there are so many who have been through this kind of trauma.’ And ‘you will get through.’ But they won’t know how to make the ‘getting through’ feel safe. They won’t leave space for thoughts that feel weak. Or dirty. Or gloriously wrong. They won’t acknowledge the part of the assault that wasn’t sexy but made you grow in sexuality. Because, thought number 1, you did grow in sexuality.
2. And listen, you don’t need to hear how ‘so many’ men and women have been through this kind of experience. It’s not a shared gateway to adulthood. It’s not a rite of passage. It’s a crime, plain and simple.
3. Because if rape is a rite of passage, a human experience, where does that leave sexual assault? A half-rite of passage, a half-human’s existence? You are almost a woman, but sorry, you escaped a moment too soon. I mean, seriously.
4. Though, sometimes, you do think about the people who went through more, who dealt with more.
5. And, let’s be honest. You’re selfish. Because you know how hard it is to explain to someone that you are a virgin, but you have been sexually assaulted, but no, you have not felt a penis inside you.
6. Not that it matters, because when you do finally land naked on tossed sheets, you’ll forget where you are. You’ll go back to that night with that rapist with his penis.
7. His penis never really does leave your body. Every stroke of your skin, every touch of a man. Your body remembers.
8. And sometimes, that memory feels good. Too good.
9. So you just say it: an assault isn’t something to ‘get over’ or ‘through.’ It’s over. And you and him are most certainly through. But he never leaves you, or your bed, or your sex life.
10. You have never told your partner, though, that you’re in a threesome– you, your lover, and your memory of a rapist.
11. As long as you feel safe. But when you feel weak, when you feel tired, that’s when the memories matter. When the memories hurt.
12. And you have to be honest.
13. And you have to grow strong. Because of your rapist. You have to.
14. Remember, he called your body beautiful. You are beautiful. He called you ravenous. You are ravenous. And why the hell shouldn’t you believe him? Whatever his motive, you choose to believe he was honest.
15. With his feelings. With his needs. Even when you pretend to not understand what went through his mind, you know every crevasse of his needs.
16. So, despite the lies you told to escape, despite the lies you told to protect yourself in the moment, in the aftermath, you choose to be better than your rapist. In EVERY way. You choose to be even more honest.
17. And release the secrets verbally. Because they really do harbor shame, much the way the foreskin of his uncircumcised penis harbored STIs.
18. Not that you were brave enough to get tested for STIs.
19. But there is victory. In remembering. Even though your assailant may have taken your body from you, he didn’t take your memory.
19. So now, there’s a girlfriend who knows every detail of this sad little man’s dick. And you have to wonder if for every rapist, there’s a therapist or friend who knows the details of his dick (or her vulva to be open to options).
20. And, if so, can we make a dick-tionary so police can help find these demons. Or, at least, as a reference guide so women can know one when she sees it.
21. Not that rapists can’t change. Because people can change. You sure have changed.
22. I mean, you still put on the same clothes from that night. You liked the top too much for a slimeball *no pun intended* to ruin it for you. And it was on sale.
23. But, oh boy, has your mind opened to what sex is. And what it isn’t.
24. And why ‘sexually active’ and ‘sexually protective’ are two very different things. When you go asking a doctor for birth control.
25. “I’m sorry, but ‘I want to be ready for when I am raped,’ wasn’t on the intake form as an option, and sexually active doesn’t quite cut it.”
26. Not when the first penis you saw was on a cadaver. Cold and pale, devoid of blood. Sliced open, straight down the urethra.
27. And the second was on a rapist.
28. In fact, calling rape ‘sexually active’ just has a bad aftertaste. There is nothing active about it. There is nothing intentional about lying helpless with a man’s grip around your throat.
29. But you often choose to keep those thoughts to yourself. Because a victim is supposed to be strong. A victim is supposed to move forward. A good victim is supposed to be quiet and meek.
30. And forget that! Here’s the inspiration you needed to hear back in the days after: Speak your mind. Say the truth. Accept every and any little thought you may have.
31. About rape. About sex. About your sexuality.
32. Oooh, but to put yourself and sex in the same sentence. It takes a long time to return to that place. Just a long enough time.
33. And when you get to that place, you know so much more about yourself.
34. And just how much of a right you have.
35. To say no.
36. And say no again.
37. And shout no to the world.
38. Until you are ready to say yes.
39. Not that rape is inspiring. Or glorious.
40. But you know, surviving can be just a beautiful thing!
If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual assault, please do reach out to your local authorities and support system for help. And never fear putting pen to paper to share the words you needed to hear!
You can find the wonderful edition drafted in collaboration with the editors of YourTango by clicking HERE. Please share this piece with those who need it, and carry forward with humor and care.
Mirissa D. Price is a nighttime blogger and sometimes poet on a mission to spread pain-free smiles. She offers tips for wellness and sprinkles of humor at mirissaprice.wordpress.com, and has publications in The Huffington Post, KevinMD, and more. Though a doctor once said she would live in a nursing home for life, confined to a wheelchair, crippled by pain, Mirissa instead chose to live passionately. Now, as a 2019 DMD candidate and a future pediatric dentist, Mirissa is, in every way, spreading pain-free smiles, writing through her nights, and, once again, walking through her days.
© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.
This article was originally published on YourTango.