My mother was raped by a “friend” when she was nineteen, something she never told me until I was in my twenties. Once she did tell me, a lot of things began to make sense. I never understood why she always slept with the light or why she was so adamant about me not wearing makeup or why she was visibly shaken when “Kung Fu Fighting” came on the radio one time. Now I understand.
Looking back, I can see how much not talking about it has effected her life. Like she had to carry this enormous weight that was invisible to everyone but her. A crushing weight made doubly so by the fact that she couldn’t utter the words “I was raped” for fear of how others would react, or maybe because she wanted to forget it happened altogether.
But, after forty one years, my mother has found the courage to speak about her rape and now attends individual as well as group therapy, which have been monumentally helpful. I can see in her eyes that she no longer carries this secret like an albatross. Talking about it will not make the pain go away, but it’s the first step on the path to healing.
So this is my long-winded way of saying thank you. Thank you for giving so many women the courage to talk about rape and sexual assault. Simply saying “it’s not your fault” to a rape survivor is not enough. You are giving so many women their lives back by giving them the permission to talk about it. You’ve reminded me to never stay silent.