I had been traveling nonstop for weeks. I was running on empty but still managed to pull myself together after a four-hour flight to meet a couple of my friends for dinner. Little did I know, it would only take that one night for my life to change drastically. I wish I never entered the back seat of that car thinking the driver would bring me home safely. I wish the norm was not trusting strangers to chauffeur us around town. I wish I knew I was entering the car of a monster – alone.
Prior to the most horrific night (early morning) I could ever imagine, everything in my life was wonderful. I was the happiest I had ever been. I was working towards achieving my goals, I was excited about my future, and I was strong. In the first few hours of May 13, 2017, my world turned upside down. Numb, empty, mortified, uncomfortable, disgusted, worthless, lonely, broken, exhausted, ashamed, and heartbroken are a few of the words I use to describe how I feel on a daily basis.
The past ten months have been an emotional rollercoaster for me. My nightmares are vivid and disturbing, my perception of the world has completely changed, my innocence is gone, my functionality has been minimized, my self-worth has dissolved, and I am trapped in my own skin. The events that occurred that night replay in my head repeatedly. I am living in a nightmare I can’t wake up from. I can hear his aggressive voice when I close my eyes – threatening my life and making hostile demands. I can still feel the tears streaming down my face as I begged him to stop and attempted to push him off me while I tried to figure out how I was going to escape.
I have days where I feel okay and days where I bury my head into my hands and sob uncontrollably. On the bad days, I feel like I’m being buried alive; I speak but nothing comes out, I sleep but my mind races, and something as light as a feather can break me. My 27th birthday was on May 23rd, and I felt as if I were mourning a loss. I did not want to celebrate because I did not even want to be alive. These months have felt like I’m a newborn all over again – a baby learning how to crawl, eat, talk and grow. I have a hard time doing anything on my own and I fear everything. I am constantly startled any time someone comes near me. I hate that my happy place is now a foreign place. I hate looking in the mirror, having anxiety attacks, being angry, not feeling comfortable enough to be alone and feeling unlovable. I especially hate that I am going through this. My days consist of therapy and attempting to put the pieces of my life back together like a puzzle.
He threatened to take my life from me. Although I am alive, he did in fact take my life from me amongst other things. He took my motivation, safety, confidence, happiness, sleep, privacy, intimacy and sanity. This is not the life I am supposed to live. This is not what living feels like – this is what surviving feels like. Nothing will ever replace what he took from me. NOTHING.
I am going to spend each day of my life surviving. In time, I intend on becoming stronger with the continuous help of my therapist and the support system around me. In time, I would like to fully love myself again. I have learned to accept that I will never be whole again. This is not something I can just erase from my memory. Although I never believed I would have to endure something of this magnitude, I have, and I will prevail. I would like to do everything in my power prevent this from happening to as many daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and friends.
No one can prepare you for the type of suffering that rape brings you, and they shouldn’t have to.
Something I had a hard time accepting is that NONE of what happened was my fault. After I finally came to terms with that, I was able to begin moving forward. If anyone is struggling or ashamed to come forward, please reach out to me. It’s time to fight back, stand tall, speak up and let our voices be heard. Don’t let rape silence you. Rapists try to ruin your life, but if you fight back, the only life that will be ruined is theirs. I am not ashamed to share my story and I will continue to grow through what I go through. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write, and I pray I never have to write it again.
— Katelin, age 27