My hands are sweaty and my heart is racing. Just a second ago I heard people talking and laughing, honking cars and city sounds. All of sudden my entire world stood still. The only thing I could feel was the pounding of my racing heart beat.
How are you? he said.
HOW AM I?
Being raped was the scariest thing that I could have ever imagined happening to me. Coming face to face with the man who raped me is the second scariest thing I could have imagined happening to me. It was happening. He is standing right in front of me.
“I’m fine” I said.
His mouth was moving and I know he was saying words but I could not hear him. All I could think was “How are you standing in front of me? I never imagine I’d have to face you again. Why are my legs not moving to run away? I’m nauseous. How the hell am I so calm right now?”
That was the longest few minutes of my life.
As we walked back to the car my sister asked if I was ok. No I wasn’t ok. Immediately, my eyes welled up with tears and all my emotional scars ripped open. It still hurts.
There was a silence.
They decided that we should drive to the top of the hills to see how beautiful the city is at night. All I wanted to do was to be alone and cry. I’m so thankful my sister didn’t allow me to do that.
I didn’t realize how much pain I was still in until I saw him.
I didn’t realize that I hadn’t forgiven him until I saw him.
I know you will read this so I will speak to you directly.
I hated you.
I hated God because of you.
I hated people and I especially hated men because of you.
I spent ten years feeling unlovable. You told me that you loved me. You taught me to love men who couldn’t love me back.
I hated my body because of you. For years I ate my feelings so that no man would ever find me attractive enough to want to steal my body again. I wanted to crawl out of my skin every day because of you.
You broke my spirit and my heart turned cold.
Seeing you brought me back to those hideous colored hostel room walls; to the longest walk home; to the blank face of a 17 year old sitting in a shower wondering if life would ever be the same again?
To you that was a moment on a school campus years ago. You probably don’t think about it. You have a beautiful wife and healthy kids. Life went on.
My life stood still. My flame dimmed. I lost all sight of who I was.
I know rape is not about sex at all. It’s about control and power.
Like you, control became my disease too. I wanted to control everything. I thought if I controlled right then nothing like that would ever happen to me again. I controlled how close people go to me. I controlled my body, my smile and my pain.
I held myself in prison for what you did. I poisoned my heart with hate and anger.
I didn’t “ask for it”. I didn’t provoke it and I most certainly didn’t deserve it.
I see your name popping up on my screens a little more. You no longer have the privilege of access to me, please leave me alone. I know it’s tempting to want to reach for the light. My light shines a little brighter because of the burdens I’ve put down, the burdens which you placed on me. You no longer have power over me and I will not be affected by you.
I’m ready to forgive you now.
I forgive you.
As we made our way up the hills of Windhoek, we could see the city lights begin to shine. It was beautiful.
We got out of the car to take a better look. We began to laugh. I began to laugh. My heart started to beat normally again. Look at all this love and beauty I’m surrounded by.
How am I doing he asked?
I’m doing great.
I’m not afraid anymore.
I know rape is a really difficult subject to talk about. It’s difficult for the person talking and its just as difficult for the person listening. Its difficult for family, friends and complete strangers. I wish it was something we didn’t have to talk about but we do. It’s not monsters in dark alleys that rape; it’s our leaders, our friends and family members. Victims are not sluts and whores; they are women who have been preyed upon. They are our sisters and our friends. Listen to them. Believe them. Love them.
I choose to no longer be angry. The two scariest things I could have imagine happening to me, both happened and I survived them both! I can not say that I understand why bad things happen the way they do but I choose to channel my energy for good. To give power to those who have had their power taken away. I speak to educate, to empower and to show survivors that they can get back up.
How am I he asked?
This is the chapter where I speak my truth, standing firmly and proudly in who I am. This is the chapter where I laugh more and love more. This is the chapter I set myself free. This is my rebirth.
Want to explore deeper? I’m Holistic Wellness and Behavioral Change Coach. Schedule a coaching session to take a deeper look and identify the parts of you that are keeping you from living a healthy, happy, active life. I’ve been there and I want to share with you the tools Im using to set myself free. I’m here to serve you as a guide, coach or just a listening ear.