by: Knight Fox
I remember the day I stopped believing I was worthwhile, and became an object in my own eyes. It was the same day I turned eight years old. And it was the first day I was violated by someone who should have protected me from violations of that sort. I won’t go into the details here, because they’re unimportant. Suffice it to say, the years between my eighth birthday and my twelfth were filled with terror, pain, and abuse.
As children do, I internalized the message I am unlovable because of this abuse. I rationalized that if those who were supposed to protect, love, and cherish me thought of me as nothing more than a plaything, then that is what I must be. (Of course, this understanding comes after years of therapy.) Simultaneously, I was also receiving messages that it was my duty to please, and that the way to please was to be perfect.
Because of this combination of messages, I developed an eating disorder at thirteen, right after hitting puberty. By the time I was fourteen I was ninety eight pounds dripping wet, barely sleeping, and convinced that I was never going to be good enough for anyone to love me. I pushed myself and my body, punishing myself for crimes other people had committed, killing myself slowly in an effort to feel alive. By the time I was fifteen, I was self-injuring on a daily basis.
When I was sixteen, I got mixed up with some people who promised me acceptance, and ended up in a situation where I was taken advantage of again. I never reported that rape, believing that I deserved it because of who I was; because I was unlovable, an object, a plaything, a nothing and a nobody that did not matter anyway. When I was eighteen, I experienced partner rape. Again, I accepted it as my due—because the groundwork had been laid a decade before, when I had first been taught that sexual assault was my due, and I had no recourse.
Today I am twenty-three. I have healed and continue to heal. I am proud to say that I have not self-injured or engaged in eating-disordered behavior in seven months, and that I am completely convinced that the abuse I suffered at the hands of my rapists was in NO WAY my fault. The road to get here was not easy, but I am living proof that it can be traveled, and I continue to travel it proudly.
I do not know that I will ever find the place in myself where I can forgive my childhood abusers. I have found a place where I can let go of the rapes that happened when I was a teenager and forgive those attackers. I continue to engage in therapy to heal, to learn to see myself as worthwhile, to learn to deal with the memories and messages of the abuse and to move past the trauma.
What I do know is that, as a survivor, I have a future that does not have to be defined by my experience with sexual assault. That while I am active in many things which help survivors of sexual assault, and which help work to eradicate instances of child sexual abuse, my story does not have to revolve around the abuse I suffered. I know that I do not have to remain a victim. And I know that you do not either. You too can survive.
Reach out. Speak up. Seek help. Seek healing. You are not alone, and it is possible to be okay again. I promise, from the bottom of my heart.