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Never Thought It Would Happen to Me

Dear Survivor,

I know the bad days outnumber the good ones.
Maybe you haven’t even had a good day since it happened.
Maybe you feel like your temptations are the only logical way to escape.
Maybe you’re ignoring it.

I thought ending my life was the only way to escape.
And more than once I acted on these feelings.

I’m here to assure you that it isn’t.
I’m here to remind you that you are not alone.
I’m here to tell you my story.

I sat in a chair alone, regretting every decision I had made up to this point.
It was too dark to see where the room ended.
I glanced up at the clock, it was after midnight.

Thirty minutes passed.

I dropped my underwear onto the blue-tiled floor behind the thin curtain.
This was the only article of clothing left on my shaking body as I held back tears.
I was being stripped searched by someone I had met only moments before.

I had been strapped down and transported to a psychiatric ward under a Section 12, involuntary hospitalization.
Earlier that day I had entered the ER, where they tested me – revealing my body had been in a state of starvation without any sleep for several days.

So, I had no choice but to accept it.
I grabbed a hospital gown off the communal shelves, I went the next three days using this as my closet.

How did I end up being the one locked up?

I felt like a failure.
Years of effort went into concealing my dirty little secret and refusing medication, all put to waste due a psychotic break.
I was sicker than I thought.
Over a year since everything ended, and I could not build up the motivation to stay alive.

They recommended I should drop out of school.
Quit my activities. I should take some time off.
I should stay home for the summer, turn down my job opportunities.
I should go to therapy multiple times a week…

….maybe every goddamn day. I should limit myself, as if I hadn’t been limited by my experiences for the past three years.
How did I end up here?
How did I end up needing multiple medications to get through the day?

Let’s back track to three years ago where this all started:

One winter afternoon stands out very clearly in my memory.
It felt like a normal day…the day I tried to kill myself.

See the connection? Yeah, neither did anyone else.
Neither did my friends who saw me on the ground and who started hysterically crying after hearing I had recently tried to take my own life.
“You’re depressed. Junior Year is hard.” That was the same diagnosis all my close friends gave to me.
But I knew the truth. It wasn’t the first overdose of that year, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Other people? They probably didn’t think I ever stopped smiling.
The class president with the perfect GPA, a varsity athlete with a huge friend group.
The one who kept everyone laughing and never missed a party.

What was happening to me became a weekly occurrence.
A weekly reminder that in my world, drugs always won.
The problems with my family were showing up in my friends who had always been my outlets from the crazy.

No one loved you more than drugs or alcohol. That just wasn’t possible.

But this time it was different.
This time my body could not accept what was happening.

My OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) developed. Maintaining this order internally wasn’t the only concern. Externally, I could not face conflict, tension or dominance among my peers. It was an obsessive daily routine of needing to know everything my friends were doing and where they were. Miscommunications would send me home in the middle of a school day from hysterical panic.
I was so scared of people finding out the truth. All my lies had to line up.

I needed the control. The control that was being taken from me every day.
Back then everything I did was subconscious, but now it all makes sense.

I think if I paused for even one minute that year I might have been able to realize the state of denial I was in.

I finished my college applications, and I pushed my problems to the back of my head.
But I kept having the panic attacks, I kept using drugs, and I couldn’t stop.

That June, I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

It was the deadline I had put on my life for the last year.

I could finally end my own life, cause that was the only way to escape the hell I was in, right?

I sat for hours, contemplating my carefully thought out plan. As I reflected on my last 18 years, I realized that this was a selfish day for me to pick. Graduation weekend was selfish. It took a few more weeks to realize that any day I picked would be selfish. No one would understand. No one knew. They would blame themselves.
So, I ripped up the suicide note, deleted the documents I had typed –
one goodbye for every person I loved.

Then I made some changes.

First, I told someone I trusted the truth.

Second, I cut off my best friend.

Third…the third one was the hardest.

I never planned on telling anyone. But he needed to know that if something happened to our mutual best friend, who was struggling with addiction among other mental illnesses, he would be facing it alone.

With tears in my eyes, I revealed my dirty little secret.

I told one of my favorite people in the world that our best friend was a rapist.

Drugs weren’t the only thing our friend was abusing regularly to cope. It wasn’t his only addiction.

I was his pathetic slave.
I was 16 years old the first time he raped me until I was vomiting and bleeding.
He was sober. I was drunk. We didn’t kiss. We didn’t enter a bedroom.
This was not a bad hookup, this was rape.

He was my best friend. Rapists are strangers. He didn’t have a weapon. Rapists have weapons.

I covered it up. Just like I did every other time it happened.
After a while it became routine. Accepting it was easier than fighting it.

After all, I was just helping my best friend.
He “needed” me, and it was just my body. And he loved me right?
It was fine we didn’t kiss. It was fine that nothing was reciprocated.

It was fine until other people stopped hooking up with me because I was “cheating” on them.
It was fine until I had to start avoiding my friends.
It was fine until I ate lunch alone every day in silence.
It was fine until I started drinking every day.
It was fine until I did cocaine.

It was fine until I was on a vacation of a lifetime but couldn’t stop wishing I was dead.
I spent a lot of time just wishing I was dead.

It was fine until I lost my worth.

It was fine until I lost myself.
And almost lost my life.

So, I kept being fine. And it kept happening. Some days I was even more than fine. Some days I wasn’t.
For over a year this went on.
To me it seemed like one aspect of my life, an embarrassing secret pushed to the back of my head, something that wasn’t going to stop me again.

But the summer before I left for college it happened again.
Another man who decided his needs were worth my sanity, my well-being.
I was so proud for finally ending a toxic relationship, but when it happened again, everything came crashing down. The reality of the last 2 years of my life hit. And I broke.

And it didn’t stop there. Another of of my friends didn’t take “no” for an answer as he woke me in the middle of the night and pressed me harshly against his body, forcing himself on me.
He knew I didn’t report it the first time – so he knew I wouldn’t report it now.

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

College transition? It’s suppose to be this hard, right?

Wrong.

My close friends started to notice, and they begged me to get help. I knew I needed help but I was scared. I didn’t want anything to be reported. I just wanted to forget it ever happened. But I couldn’t. The flashbacks made sure of that. They also made sure I developed insomnia.

I called the rape crisis center half way through the semester, it took weeks to build up the courage.
I met my social worker.
After that it took weeks, even months, to admit what had happened. She helped me realize the severity of the situation I was in, how it related to other aspects of my life, and gave me someone to talk things out with without the fear of being a burden.

But after months of feeling alone, the people at treatment gave me a community to relate to.
They would explain abstract feelings or responses to different situations that helped me justify my own thoughts and behavior. But not every day at treatment was easy. These were the days when my fellow group members would bring up their court dates or their families.
I admired their ability to tell their parents about something like this and the strength that these people had to press charges against their rapists.

I just thought I was the type of person to fight for justice. To report something like this.
But I guess there’s no type. I guess it’s situational. At least they have to live knowing what they did, and that’s a pain I can’t fathom.

During my first semester of college I was diagnosed with chronic PTSD.
I was told I shouldn’t drink. I shouldn’t have sex. I should avoid triggers at all costs.
Those people, people I trusted, took more from me than I could have ever imagined. And they continue to do so every day. That body that I thought I could let be abused and be fine, my body, was now damaged for life.
A few wrong choices, a few bad relationships, and I was facing a lifetime of trauma.

But throughout everything I realized how lucky I was.
I was getting abused and doing drugs multiple times a week for months. But I didn’t develop an addiction. I didn’t need an abortion. I didn’t get an STD. I woke up from my overdoses. I didn’t die.

But drugs put you in an environment where there are huge threats to your well-being aside from addiction and overdoses. I have permanent brain damage. My thoughts are slower, and sometimes I even mix up words. In fact, the stress of the disease has caused a part of my brain to physically swell, affecting my basic motor controls, speech, and overall mental stability. But I’m still grateful.

I’m not ready to move on, but I don’t have a choice. I can’t go home to the place where everything happened, I can’t watch my friends be with him, I can’t risk seeing him again,
I can’t risk forgiving him again.

I’ve met so many wonderful people and made some lifelong friends along the way while healing.
My friends are the reason I’m alive today.
This whole mess put a lot of tension on my relationships, and I appreciate every friend who has loved me despite my irrational behavior.
I never thought I’d be ready to travel for extended periods or simply function on my own.
I developed a clinginess to those I was closest to, and did not stray far from their company.
I had a routine and expectations to meet. I had an order to life that was almost impossible to avoid.

And today, I sit in a coffee shop across the world reading a book – enjoying life.
For the past few months I have had a good day, every day. A good day does not mean everything went smoothly, but it means the events did not diminish me into depression, or hysteria. The panic still comes, but less often and in smaller doses. The suicidal impulses are not hourly, sometimes not even daily.
I do not obsess over ways to kill myself.

But some days it consumes me.
A lot of days actually. My past influences my behavior, my decisions.

It’s living in a state of confusion.

What do my friends think of me? Does this make me weak? Is it better to tell people or keep it to myself? Will I ever think this made me a better person and not just want to forget everything?
Will I ever be able to function in a relationship?
Would I have lived in denial forever if the other attacks didn’t happen? Why can’t I just get over this?

I don’t know the answers to any of these, but I do know that throughout the last year a lot of questions have been answered. And that as time goes on, I’ll understand more.

It’s being limited by a mental disorder.
It is having to foster my brain more than I ever wanted to.
But it’s also knowing that you are stronger than you think. And it’s knowing that it really, truly does get better. That some things aren’t meant to be secrets while others are best kept unspoken, to expect the unexpected,
and knowing that sometimes you do need help.

It’s a gift in life…

to understand pain.

to know the greater risks of drugs and manipulation.

to have friends that stick by your side through more than bad days – through consecutive bad weeks, months, years.

to be able to look someone in the eyes in their darkest hour and tell them with 100% confidence that everything will get better.
You will be okay. You can overcome anything.

But don’t get me wrong, it was no gift to get raped by my best friend for two years. It was a curse, a bullet. I’ve destroyed so many relationships, ended so many traditions, avoided so many things, and gave up so many passions.
But I just remember that the worse is over now and it’s only better off ahead.


Never apologize for the way you chose to repair
what someone broke.

“You are not your abuse. You are not what they did to you. You are not your trauma.
You are the cleverness that survived. You are the courage that escaped. You are the power that hid & protected a tiny spark of your light.
You will fan that spark into a bonfire of rage and love, and with it you will burn all their lies to ash.”

Love,
A Survivor, age 20

2 comments

  • Hope
  • Alexis

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