Four years ago I was raped by a guy that I considered a friend. Like most survivors of rape/sexual assault, initially I didn’t understand what had happened to me; I knew that what had happened was wrong, but I couldn’t quite understand why. It wasn’t until the six months later, after I had started seeing a therapist, was I told that he had raped me. Understandably, for a couple of months I didn’t quite know how to deal with it - to me rape happened in a dark back alley, in the middle of the night by a stranger, not by a guy I saw as a pal. I lashed out and argued with people I adored, until it got to a point where I knew it was taking over my life, and I wanted to do something about it.
So I started a blog. I started writing about what had happened, how I had handled it and the effect it had to the people I was close to.
It became a safe haven for me, because I was able to articulate how confused I felt, how sad and lonely I had felt for those first couple of months. The more I wrote, the more people got in touch with me about how they had been through a similar experience, but hadn’t told anyone they were close to, but just felt better by telling a stranger on the internet. Some of my best friendships have come from these blogs, and that’s what I want to bring to this community.
Although societies are more condemning of the perpetrators of rape, aided hugely by the #MeToo Movement, there are still many gaps that they’re not addressing. There is still a significant part of society engaging in victim-blaming, influencing the legislation and policing structures that deliver the correct punishment for rapists. Whether you decide to report your rape or not, there is a lot of complications and nuances that accompany that decision, as well as feelings of fear and guilt. I was told that my case would be very difficult to prove in court, so I decided against reporting it, but I still feel guilt, worrying that me not reporting it has allowed him to assault someone else.
Furthermore, rape is largely dealt with in its own bubble, and we talk very little about how it affects other areas of a survivor’s life.
I remember the first few weeks after I stayed in bed, missing lectures, only getting up to go to my paid job at the weekends. It’s a miracle I passed by first semester of second year. After everything a survivor has gone through, it isn’t fair that other areas of their life are negatively impacted.
I’m not saying that this community will fix all of these issues. But no-one understands your assault and trauma, like another survivor. There is no-one more compassionate - they have felt the same guilt as you, the same shame, and they’re the best people to reassure you just how far you’ve come. Like I said earlier, some of my strongest friendships have come from this community, and I want that for every survivor, because they deserve the reassurance of just how badass they are, and hype them up to show just how far they have come. I have just finished my degree, started a job with a charity (which I ADORE), and I would never have been able to do this without the community of survivors that have encouraged me to be the very best version of me that I can be. Not in spite of the assault, but because of the assault - that’s my wish for every survivor.
Like my mum always told me, I’m not a victim of rape, I’m a survivor.
Written Bravely and Beautifully by Our Founder Bekah
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