The scariest thing about rape is not the pain. Not even the violation of bodily autonomy how many put it. It’s about the inherent problem of trust. The problem has nothing to do with the idea that the person you have trusted turned out to be hurting you. Neither it is even about the trust to your own body that has betrayed you. All of these are true. All of them are hurtful. However, perhaps the most horrifying thing lies in your only chance for salvation. There is a person, and there can be several of them. They control you. They are the only ones that can decide whether you will feel pain. Whether you will be raped. How and for how long. Whether you are going to die. The only way for you to not experience the journey to hell and back is to trust the people that have showed that they are not capable of mercy. To do anything you feel will make them stop, because that is your only chance. It does not matter what you do – what matters is t hem. In these people we have to trust. It’s suffocating even more than their hands.
I’ve been told that I was lucky. I’ve been told that many times and I hear that with increasing pace. People say that I’m intelligent, beautiful, spirited. I’m attending a great university and graduating cum laude in only three years. Going into an even greater university for my masters. People say they want to be like me. Aye, have they any idea what they are talking about?
My father left the family when I was two years old, leaving myself and my mother alone. Not without company, however. He stole some money (oh, how often that appears in my storyline) from some people and ran away. My 20 year-old mother had me raised by a nanny in the countryside so that I don’t get kidnapped while she was trying to get at least some money into the family alone. For these purposes when I was three I started professional sport. We travelled more than staid in one place. It was the sports team that was my family, not my mother who could never show any emotion around me either way. It was also the sports team that got me injuries, that made me witness trauma, that made me work the entire day long with almost no food. It is also with sports team that I have seen people break their necks and found them bleeding. Those were the first times that I saw death, and it has been close to me ever since.
My mother re-married when I was 12. No, it wasn’t him who raped me. He was a smart person, kind, a very soft one. With a PhD in mathematics he’s been trying to teach me math, which I never got since I wasn’t going to school and failed miserably. We were never really close, because by that point I have failed to be able to form an attachment to anyone. I have realized that I will never be able to. He earned a lot of money. Or, I daresay, he stole a lot of money. Enough to move to a huge flat, enough to buy expensive clothing, enough to send me to one of the most expensive boarding schools in the world, enough to get me tortured for money.
They tortured me for three days, marking my body with scars by burning and cutting me, crippling my wrists, breaking my every single finger, damaging almost all internal organs, electrocuting me, water boarding me. They took my clothes and said they would gang rape me. They did not. But I believed they would.
I was 14 and left the sports team. I started private school and it was, indeed, the experience that saved me. Never really have been to school for long before, it was the only place that taught me how to do something at least. How to write essays, communicate with people, deal with fear. I was the most resilient person I have ever heard of. My teenage brain have blocked out all the memories. Avoided any connotation or trigger. Found the thought of sex unbearable. The nurses thought I was hypochondriac for all the illnesses I had. They thought I was cutting myself for all the scars I had. I have had three heart attacks. Regardless, I was happy, and I planned to be even happier. I studied there for one year, and that very summer my step-father committed suicide.
Somewhere deep inside of my mind I take the blame. I feel that he found out about the torture and could not forgive himself. I feel I never loved him enough. I feel that I avoided him for all of the years he has known me. We found him sitting in the kitchen on the floor in front of the refrigerator. He didn’t just look pale – he was grey. The sides of his lips were lower than his chin, and it was terrifying. He didn’t look human. He looked like a costume of a person too big of a size. And my stepdad was falling out of it. We have spent the entire day alone. He was trying to eat pills, he was trying to jump out of the window. He was fighting me off when I tried to stop him. I cried and called my mother, I said that we should call a mental institution, she said we should not. Next day we brought him to the countryside house hoping he will get better with fresh air. So he did, we thought. He started cutting his nails, he tried to look nice, we thought that was a sig n of recovery. We left him sleeping in the same room with his two-year-old daughter so that she would stop him from ending his life. She did not. I woke up at 6AM from the sounds of my sister crying, and my stepfather wasn’t there. I found him minutes later swinging like a wine from a neighboring building. His body pale and stiff, a blue tongue contrasting the white face. Death has found me again.
We only had enough money for half a year of school. It was still one of the happiest years of my life. I had to drop out in January despite the fact that even the director was making all the effort to convince the owners of the school to give me a scholarship. But the school had no scholarships. The teachers said I will be sorely missed. I turned 16 and started an internship. In September I started school and got a real job. Three of them, in fact. The school didn’t care what we did, they didn’t care what the syllabus was, and I didn’t have enough time with all the jobs. It’s been two years of working, studying, sleepless nights. An attempt to survive, to pass the exams, to not lose my jobs, to make enough money to go abroad.
By the end of my second year I met him. The sweetest, kindest, most caring person in the entire universe. He supported me, gave me compliments. He always said I was the best. I’ve only just turned eighteen when he raped me for the first time.
We’ve been dating for three months before it happened. My current boyfriend asks me sometimes how come I never noticed it, how come the fact that he’s too nice did not register as alarming. Maybe, indeed, I should have noticed it then, but how could I? So desperate for love, for support, for attention my family never gave me. With him I was happy, for the long three months he has helped me through my exams, sleepless nights, countless deadlines. His help was undeniable, my appreciation for him – incompatible with anything I have felt before. I told him I was tortured, I told him about my stepfather, and he listened attentively. I told him I was terrified of sex ever since then, he said that a new experience will help me get through this.
We have had dinner on the roof and watched the sunset, it was beautiful. He kissed me the way he did many times before that, he brought me downstairs. We sat together and talked about nothing almost all the night long, we lay in bed and laughed at stupid jokes, he rolled on top of me like he did so many times before that and said, “I can help you forget”. I didn’t understand what he meant, he blocked my lips with a kiss once again and started taking my blazer off, touching my breast. I was mortified. I froze. I said I didn’t want to, I said I was scared. I haven’t even noticed how he left me half naked. It happened in the blink of an eye. It’s almost like he time-travelled. “The only reason why you are afraid is because you haven’t tried. As soon as you try, the barrier will be gone”. He was talking me into it. It seemed like it’s only been a second, but I was already naked. Ashamed. Terrified. I don’t know wh ere he took the condom from, but the next thing I remember – immense, paralyzing even, pain. I asked him to stop. He did not. Minutes passed, I was crying. He did not stop. I begged. He said “it’s the only way you will not feel pain the next time”, he finished. Changed the sheets that were drowning in my blood. I couldn’t feel my legs. I couldn’t sleep all night.
The next morning he was the same. The loving, the caring, the wonderful. He made me breakfast, brought it to bed, apologized so many times that it was hurtful. “It was necessary”, he said. “That means that you will not feel the pain in the future, everybody feels that the first time”. He was my God, so I believed. That day we had sex again. I was trembling, begging to stop. I was bleeding. He did not hear me. And again. And again. And again. I was bleeding for the entire week. I was begging to stop for the entire week. Nobody listened. I felt like the world was crashing down on me. Slowly, I have started to ralise that this is not how it should be. I have started to feel that he is wrong and he should stop. Nevertheless, I still could not wrap my head around what happened. Never have I ever felt so betrayed.
The next day I have tried to stop him. I told him he was hurting me, that this is not how it should be and I am not going to let him trick me any longer. He laughed. He said that it was hilarious that it took me so long but I still couldn’t get it. I felt stupid, I felt useless. He grabbed me, I tried to fight back and run away, still finding it hard to believe. Regardless of what’s been happening I’ve been denying it was rape. How could it be? Isn’t rape something immeasurably painful that damages you for life? Isn’t it one of the most horrific things that could ever happen to you? Is somewhat of a painful sex with a person you believed you admired actually rape? That sounded so wrong, so out of place. He was much stronger than me. He twisted my arm behind my back, pushed me face down on the bed, spread my legs and raped me again. This time, and only this time, I have actually realized I was being raped.
The beatings started the next day. Every time I complained. Every time I fought back. Every time I was trying to get to my phone or find the keys to open the front door. I was trapped. When I sat still he was still kind. He cooked my food, he cleaned, he told me I was beautiful and smart, he kissed me softly and said that it was all good. For some moments I thought that the rape was just a nightmare. That it didn’t happen. How could it have? I looked down at my bruises and thought they were dirt, what else could they be? What violent things could this saint for a person possibly do? Funny how he thought that I needed more convincing.
He didn’t wait for long. The following evening he already wasn’t alone. Laughter was roaring through the house like wind. The smell of alcohol was so strong I could smell it from the room I was sitting in. It was late, so late it was already dark outside, but I was too scared to even turn the light on. I sat alone on the bed, holding on to my knees like they were going to fall off, searching ceaselessly for a way to get out. I considered jumping out of a window, stealing somebody’s phone and calling police, screaming to get the neighbor’s attention. Nothing seemed realistic enough to risk being battered for. I don’t know how many hours has passed before he came to me, grabbed my hand more hard than necessary, violently pushed me into the kitchen. Four men were sitting at the kitchen, cards shuffled at the table in an ugly pile. Cold wind from an open window pushed under my skin. Thick smoke and bright light hurt my eyes.
The men laughed with something I later recognized as approval. They knew, they’ve done it before. He came from behind, his hands around my body, taking my clothes off silently, slowly, covering my neck and shoulders in kisses. They did nothing, they only watched. Until I was naked and tried to cover myself from the gazes that seemed heavier than anything I have ever experienced before. He cleared the table, through me on my back, raped me right there. His grip left bruises on my skin, he pushed my chest down so hard I could barely move, and kept thudding. Smell of alcohol, gazes I could still feel on me, somebody’s hand on my left breast. They kept laughing. They kept watching. The tears were filling me up like an empty vase which nobody would bother filling with flowers. The other man stood up, pushed me from the table, grabbed my hair with a firm grip, turned me around and pushed me face down against the table. I could still feel the warmth of my own body being pressed against that same very spot. I could feel my legs tremble so much I couldn’t move. The other man’s penis was pushing against my leg through his pants, and his fingers were already inside my vagina when I begged. Whisper and scream were already indistinguishable when I looked at my boyfriend and begged him to stop his friends from doing that to me as well. Funny that was, really. He agreed. At that very moment he was my knight in shiny armor, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do to make him happy.
He pushed me under the table, and they continued with their evening like nothing has changed. They kicked me occasionally, but it was alright. Stepped on my fingers – an accident, really. I noticed they were all wearing the same uniform. Policemen, there was no doubt. I hoped they have forgotten about me, that they will go home and at least this nightmare will be over. No. It was only beginning.
One of them took his belt out of his trousers and unzipped his pants, grabbing my face with his heavy hand. I protested, but my boyfriend has touched me gently and said that it was alright. Just a token of gratitude, an honest way to make a great friend of his feel welcome. To me at the moment that seemed only fair. Albeit at that very moment I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Carefully, terrified to displease him, I took his penis in my mouth, he grabbed my hair again. I recognized the grip. He moved my head back and forth on and on, he hit me with the belt every time I heard his words of disapproval. From the frequency of beatings I felt that there wasn’t a single thing I could do right. Until the bitter and salt has filled me, hitting me from the inside in your nose like water in the swimming pool. I tried to swing back with surprise, but he held me too hard to let go. He moaned and pushed me away, and I was too happy feeling it was over to think about anything else. I should have realized it wasn’t. Someone else’s hand has turned me around. There it was, another pair of unzipped pants. Another hand, holding the belt. I felt somebody’s hand inserting a beer bottle neck into my vagina. They were laughing. Again. That evening lasted for hours.
It was after they were gone that he told me their names. I don’t remember any of them. He told me that if I run, they will find me. If I tell anyone, they will find out. And if they do, they will gang-rape me until I bleed to death. I had no trouble believing a word he said. He gave me my phone back, he gave me the keys from the house. He told me that his place is where I lived now, the place where I had to come back every night I wasn’t obliged to spend anywhere else. He also told me that I should not draw any suspicions. I were to behave normally. I were to tell nobody. I were to pretend I was happy.
The truth is, I couldn’t feel anything apart from fear. I was made from it, I breathed it, I produced it. Every time he moved I was afraid of the beatings. Every time I heard the steps I felt I was going to be raped. I grew terrified of condoms, I couldn’t even bear to look at them. I grew sick of my own body that betrayed me dearly. It’s only been ten days since the first rape. I felt I could not stand it any longer. Little I knew of worst things that could happen.
It happened so soon. The day he came back angry. In fairness, you can never tell which one you will see entering the flat. Would it be the kind, loving person with soft touch, or was it the powerful sadist that smiled upon your suffering. Every time I heard the key turn in the door I was holding my breath and hoped. That night was the first night I saw just how berserk he got when he got angry. He hit me from when he entered, he took his belt out of his trousers, he pulled my t-shirt up and my skirt down, he touched me, and he was beating me. He told me to get his clothes of. I did, kissing him gently in the hope he would soften up. He didn’t. The belt left deep red lashing marks across my body. He told me to get on my knees, so I did. He told me to perform a fellatio, I tried. He said that I’m just as useless as his friends has told him and even the beatings wouldn’t bring me to be good. He grabbed my hair and pushed my head against the wall, he moved further, pushing his penis strongly down my throat. I felt like my throat was torn apart as by the claws of a dragon, I felt I was going numb while he moved faster and faster, and I realized that I could not inhale. All this time I could not breathe. It took disgustingly more time before I fainted, although it felt like dying. I woke at the same spot, when he was already asleep. A familiar taste told me that he didn’t bother stopping after I was not conscious. The other thing I tasted in my mouth, without doubt, was blood.
The food was hurting my throat. Any movement was hurting my body. My conscious, without doubt, was black as a crow. Within me I felt a dragon. Too big to fit into the small body of mine. Scared of being trapped, desperately trying to open its wings, the dragon was tearing me to pieces from the inside with it’s bright scales, teeth and claws. It’s still there. I feel it inside. It’s trapped, about to rip me open every time I try to talk about it. Every time I think about it for too long. It wails when I have to keep quiet. It burns everything around itself when I have to play dead and do what I’m told. It can do many things which I cannot, even after the two years that have passed. However, every movement the dragon takes, only wounds me from the inside even more. The dragon – the pain – it still too big to fit into this body. To fit into this soul. He raped me over a hundred times. He beat me over a thousand. Suffocating me during sex, pushing his pen is down my throat, making me beg for his mercy. He did everything he could possibly do.
He made me talk about my past. Despite how horrific the present was in front of me, the past with him became even more scary. The devil inside him grew every day, the will to live inside of me disappeared at even faster pace. It’s only been a month, and I have forgotten that there is anything in the world but him. I saw my mother from time to time. I was telling her that I got bruises because I have taken up martial arts. Somewhere deep in my soul I begged for her to notice. The reason appealed not to tell her, knowing the consequences. The university application was pending. I never thought I would live to see the day when I go there. Exams were coming up. Who cares for the exams? They had less determining power than him. He became the most important thing. The only thing that mattered. He was the only person to determine whether I live. Whether I would feel pain. Whether I would get food. The only thing I could do to save myself was to make sure he was happy. To make him happy. Trapped in a tunnel of time with him alone, I felt that his power was almost divine.
Raping me, while suffocating me with his belt, he asked me to describe how I was tortured. He asked me to turn myself inside out by telling him about the days I could not forget while he was busy dragging me through hell itself, forging the moments that would make me scream every night. I told him everything I could. He started burning me with a lighter after I told him I have been burnt. After I told him I was terrified of gas lighters. He started tying me up the same way they did. Wrists behind my back, pulled over a hook in the ceiling to push and break both the wrists and shoulders. Mine have already been broken. He knew. Every moment made him smile even wider. I told him the agonizing experience of water boarding. He raped me in the shower, pushing my mouth open against the water. He enjoyed grabbing my hair with every time and occasion. I cut my hair with a kitchen knife. Maybe, I was even hoping that it would change anything. Maybe, I just didn’t have enough willpower to end my own life and cut my hair in agony. I don’t even remember.
However, I remember his beating me so hard I couldn’t walk. So hard, I could barely see. Grabbing me by what has remained from the previous length of the hair and dragging to a radiator. He handcuffed me to it and turned it on. It was hot, excruciatingly so. It was also the middle of June. He gave me no food or water in the three days I have spent there. Only came by to rape me, pushing me against the heat, braiding me with burns that covered my back and arms for long weeks after. There was no sleep – I couldn’t even fall to it without burning myself. There was no food. No water for three days. The sweat, the beatings, the burns. I felt I was in the desert, waiting for rain to save me from a drought that was bleeding me dry. As if somebody has taught me how to pray, I prayed for death every moment I could make up words in my mind. It became an old friend, it became a salvation that one moment would show up and just pull me in it’s cold, peaceful embrace. Eve ry time I felt it was impossible to sustain that much pain and remain alive; every time I felt I was fainting; every time he was threatening me with deadly weapons, I was hoping, I was pleading, that I will never wake up to this again.
I did. Over and over, I did. Until nothing remained but fear, pain and scatters of my personality, which he intentionally destroyed piece by piece. I was waiting for the day he gets bored of me. I believed that when he did, he would kill me for my body to never be found. He let me go in the middle of August. Without explaining. Without saying goodbye. Simply said “it would be strange if you don’t go to the university”. I took my bag and took the metro. Forty minutes to get home. Five minutes to find my keys and open the door with shaking hands. My mother’s flat was wide and clean, as it has always been. Empty. I sat on my bed like I’ve never seen the room before. I took a bath as to wash of his smell, throwing all stained, bloodied and torn clothing in the bin. I most certainly did not feel liberated. I shivered at footsteps, thinking that it might me him visiting me again. I accidentally hit my dog when she touched me at night with her nose. Every time I heard the door open I locked my room, feeling that it might be him coming from work. I froze every time I saw condoms in the supermarket. The dragon was now not just occupying my body. It was occupying the whole world, and there still wasn’t enough space for him.
I don’t remember moving abroad to go to the university. I don’t even understand how I even managed to scrap passing grades on my school exams. There were still footsteps and voices outside of my door every day. People, who made me afraid of leaving my house to even make breakfast. There were student associations spreading condoms with a sign “the safest way to penetrate Europe”. There were young men making a move at me and myself realizing with horror how hard it is for me to say “no” to a man. On top of that there were some stupid, unimportant reading we discussed in the seminars. I was raped. I was tortured. I cannot sleep at night. I felt broken, despaired, scared. I felt the world is about to end every minute. I could not understand why everyone around me thought that some genocide in Rwanda might be even remotely important. I didn’t understand what I was doing. Apparently, somehow I was passing my courses. It didn’t matter. I was failing my life.
I came back for Christmas. The way I always did, the way I always could. Back to my family and the warm tradition. Back to knowing who I was. Back to the rapist. There is nothing I remember from that trip but him. The way he pulled me aside when I left my house. How he smashed my head against the wall and the weakness filled my body like it was iron, not blood, running through my veins. I remember the pain tearing me in halves, the pain I thought I have forgotten. The snowflakes mixed with the tears, the cold cutting off the feeling while he was hammering through my body. Until he left me there, not saying a word after all the demeaning things he said while making me bleed again. The periods didn’t come next week.
I remember cycling home abroad at night. January was so warm I always forgot it was winter. For me it was summer. That every summer I lived with him. I never left, I was never free. This country, me in it, some strange university, looking like a dollhouse where bad things never happened to people were just a funny dream. It was been two days after the termination of pregnancy. The spasms twisted my womb like it was burning alive. The pain so intense, so ceaseless that I couldn’t breathe and felt ready to fall asleep right on the ground to only not make myself move or lift my head. Ever since the termination my period paid leaves me speechless. Breathless. The doctor says that it happens sometimes. That it was a hormonal change, and it’s fairly normal. The doctor probably doesn’t know that I feel the hand of his grabbing my insides and twisting and pulling them every month. Next day I wanted to stay at home and never get out of my room. However, the next day was also a seminar for a project with full attendance required. Pale, bleeding, collapsing from pain, I went to class. I was writing my part of the group project. I hated the world and every single soul I ever passed by.
It was the beginning of the second semester. The desert in my mind, the forest fire of fierce emotion I could not control – they felt like shackles strapped around my feet by him. He tried to leave a piece of him inside of me, and I tore it out despite the pain it has put me through. It was time, I felt for sure, to crush the weight he has put on me by becoming a person I was long time ago. I was studying in the place that made him let me go. In the place, that saved my life. I was surrounded by people that cared for making the world a better place. People that would never hurt me. I held my future in my hands. A feeling new, a feeling unusual. I felt that I could change it all. It was the first time I felt that I could breathe freely again. I took a breath, and I swear, it felt like I was sucking dry the sky.
I entered a debating society. It was by far the best decision I have made. In a debate you cannot be dismissed. In a debate you don’t have to be the strongest person in the room to win, you just have to be the smartest. You can scream on your opponents and they will not take it personally. You can have a heated discussion about an idea – not an insult about yourself. I have felt power I have never felt before. I felt that people respected me, they appreciated me, and they wanted to be my friends. In spite of how unbearably defensive, arrogant and dominant I were in my road to recovery, they were all willing to accept me, and that was new. I entered into a relationship with the coach a couple of weeks after we met. It wasn’t even a month after we have met before we first slept together. I was becoming everything my ex boyfriend thought I could not do. Everything, that he himself could not become. I thought I would never go back, and he would never be able to find m e. Surprisingly, I didn’t even have to.
Some people call it karma. Others a coincidence. In my opinion it was neither. He was hit by a car. I had nothing to do with it. Someone else, however, someone from before or after me, must have been involved. As a result of the collision and a major head trauma, he had lost all the memories from the last couple of years. He forgot everything that ever involved me. Did I feel free? No, I did not. If anything, I felt worse. The things I could never share with anyone. The burden the two of us were carrying, right now has been erased from his mind. Something that has ruined my life was now not impacting him for even a tiniest bit. I was carrying the load alone. It felt like the weight of the world. I could go home to my country again. So I did. His friends have reminded me of the arrangement by beating me once again. It didn’t even feel scary anymore. Quite honestly, I didn’t even feel pain. For the first time in my life, lying face down on the ground, I have realized that it was actually over. They were leaving to never come back to my life again. This is where I could begin my fight.
I came back to my second year a slightly aggressive, no less dominant and as unbearable a person I have been before. Secretary for the charity cause, a public relations officer for the debating society, occasionally giving workshops, preparing to take additional workload in the university on top of taking some of the hardest courses. I have realized that I was good in debating, and I wouldn’t let anyone bring me down. I realized I could do brilliant things as a board member of two societies. I have fallen in love with the place that saved my life and was busy reading philosophy. I have screamed at people that disagreed with me. Destroyed their argument when they were wrong. Could not fight the nuisance my housemate was causing by producing just too many footsteps and inviting too many people over. Still could not find the strength to tell my current boyfriend when I though his words were just a bit too harsh and made me feel bad about myself. I screamed at people in my seminar who got their philosophy wrong. I have been pulled over by the teacher who has asked me to remember that there is more to a conversation than being right. He was the only one who made me finally understand it. I was so busy fighting the war that I have completely forgotten that the only person I were fighting all the time if, in fact, me. Not the people around me.
It all became clear. I didn’t have to be aggressive for people to respect me. I didn’t need to beat them into submission so they would listen. Despite all the things my ex has told me, I wasn’t stupid, I wasn’t helpless, I wasn’t miserable and it was by far not my fault. Neither, I have realized, it was the fault of people around me. Those who have only tried to help. I learned to be soft. I learned to be compassionate, understanding, loving, caring. Panic attacks never came back. Neither did intrusive thoughts. Self-destructive behavior was limited to taking excessive workload simply to avoid having free time to think. I was busy debating, having two board positions and taking incredible amount of additional courses. I felt tired, but happy. I won a debating tournament, gotten into a finals of several more. I started getting high grades. I learned to write, to make friends, to control my urge to scream. I spent the summer living with my boyfriend and working. More importantly, I was unafraid.
He is still haunting my dreams. I cannot sleep. I cannot concentrate. The dragon inside me was breathing fire. He was still trying to take over the whole world. I went on a semester abroad in my third year. I started writing my thesis. I met another person I could trust. Another person that could understand me, who could listen. I wanted to tell him all of it, but I couldn’t. The thought of making him upset by my story was unbearable. The courage to admit to myself what has happened just wasn’t there. Nevertheless, I thought it was over. I thought I have fully recovered. I thought my life will be normal again.
I was already back when the panic attacks started again. In was cold March. Despite all the dinners I have had with my friends, I felt so incredibly lonely it made me cry at night. Despite the top-of-class grades I started receiving I felt stupid, I felt worthless. There were times I wanted to die. I told my friends which university I was going to study at. Ever since then they thought that I have no right to be unhappy. It was hard. Every time they got pushy for me to tell them a “truth or dare” story I drank to. To explain how I got my scars. They couldn’t understand, and it wasn’t their fault. I couldn’t sympathize with any of them – their problems were petty. Their grief was unjustified. I was never a good, an understanding friend.
I entered therapy by the end on June. Every single day, until the very last session in the beginning of August, I wanted to drop out. I cannot talk about what happened. The therapy made me confront my fears. They left me paralyzed right there in the room. It made me afraid of the chair I was sitting on. Of the stairs I had to use to get to the office. Of the building the office was located at. Sometimes the emotions were so strong I felt suffocating. Paralyzed, motionless, breathless, I knew the dragon was opening his wings again. I wanted to tear it off, no matter how much pain it would cause. Toss it away, forget, like it never happened. Cut it off like a useless limb. It got better. It all did. After the days I couldn’t sleep. After weeks of skipping meals and tears that have filled my pillow, I have realized that there is no need to fight. Because there is no war. There never was, in fact, a war. There was ever and only just me, an Ouroboros, trying to bite off my o wn tail.
Perhaps within me was a dragon. It was too rare to murder it at a cost of pain, it had to be cherished, it had to be worshipped. All the feelings that I had had to be channeled. I have put them to serve me in the field of criminology. There was never a person more motivated. I am prepared to change the world by what I do. Because the only thing, I have realized, that is the most hurtful, is the feeling guilt. I felt guilty for not doing anything about the other girls he might be raping at this every moment. Other women, men, children that are suffering the most gruesome of fates at the hands of those who have not been stopped on time. It is now still the beginning of July. I am ready to put all the effort to put it right.
It’s time to break the silence. Let the silence scream louder than thunder. This is my story, and I am not ashamed of it. We can make it through together, because none of us has to be alone.
— Joan Rainsworth, age 21