To the Men Who Assaulted Me
To the men who assaulted me,
Sexual assault. Two words that I can’t get to say out loud. It’s as if not saying them out loud doesn’t make it real. But that in itself is a preposterous assumption—because the harsh reality is that this did happen to me. In fact, this isn’t my first time being in this position…I mean: facing the aftermath of being assaulted. It’s not even the second time.
After the first two times, I still believed that people were still inherently good. I wasn’t going to let the actions of two pitiful people affect how I saw the world. But then I met you. Because of you, I see the world differently. Because of you, I’ve lost hope that there are more good people in this world than bad. How dare you steal that view from me. Because of this, I also see myself differently. I look down at my body, and it looks dirty and tainted.
I blame you. You and your band of thieves saw me merely as an object for your pleasure, that when finished, you could wad up and throw away. Well, thanks to you, that’s how I see myself now. Thanks to you, I’ve lost my sense self. Let me clarify something: I don’t blame you for what your friends did to me—I only blame you for your heinous act. But I do see it as a reflection of the kind of man you are. You are a shallow, shameful shell of a man. You aren’t a real man; you are weak.
But it’s that weakness that shakes me to my core. Your weakness is what got us here. It’s your weakness that made me question everything in life. It’s your weakness that makes me scared for the future. I wake up every day in a panic, knowing that if you haven’t been notified of my report yet, that today could be the day. The level of fear and anxiety I feel knowing what you could do when you find out is enough to send even the strongest of people into a downward spiral. In fact, I can feel myself slipping away with each passing day, shutting down more and more, emotionally and mentally, with each oncoming second.
I come to work every day to relive the trauma of that night. I sit in the break room to look at a courtyard flooded with the memory of the darkest night in my life. I was supposed to be safe here. I close my eyes at night, and all I see is the image of you holding me with one arm—and with the other, grabbing my boobs and vagina so hard it left bruises. All I hear is the sound of three of your friends laughing and cheering as two others grabbed me sexually and nonconsensually, as if I were some meek animal on display.
The truly depressing part about this whole thing is, I still feel like it was all my fault. I never told you no. I tried to walk away, and you pulled me back. I tried fighting and squirming away, eventually with some success. That should have been enough. But I didn’t say no.
Me. That’s on me. I know on paper, however, that it’s untrue. I know that I didn’t ask to be sexually grabbed by my boss and his friends. But life is more complicated than statements on a piece of paper, and I don’t know how to shake this hopeless feeling of guilt that you bestowed on me.
When I first reported what you had done, I was asked the question, “What do you want the outcome to be?” Well, 48 days have come and gone, and I finally know the answer to that question. I want to be the person I was before that night, to feel beautiful and whole again.
And you know, I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on the whole “time heals all wounds” trope. I will never wake up and be OK with what you did to me. I will never wake up and be the person I was before that night. There is no going back from here. This will always be engraved in who I am. Every relationship, interaction, and genuine moment of human connection will be affected by your actions. In order for anyone to fully know me now, they will have to know my trauma. I will have to watch as how they look at me changes—just like I had to watch how I view myself change. I had to watch as my inner concept of self shifted into thinking that maybe I’m just the girl that this happens to. And that truly breaks my heart.
But, I am still alive. I may be a broken, hollow version of myself, but I can still fight you with all that I’ve got—for I refuse to bow down and apologize for speaking my truth. In reality, the outcome I’m looking for is virtually unobtainable. The damage you’ve done is permanent.
So I will leave you with this. What I’m about to say is possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say, because I hate you for what you did. But, while I may not understand this now, I hope you find your peace. I hope you understand the gravity of my words. Digest them. Live with them. Embrace them. But mostly, I hope you learn from them. Do whatever it takes for you to become right with this world. Be a better man for your family. Be a better man for me. But most importantly, be a better man for yourself.
Right now, I feel like I’ll never find peace. Although I do know one thing for certain: One day, I will see the good in myself and the world once again. And I will one day learn how to forgive you.