My Rough Winter
It started last fall; a man sexually assaulted me. I had been out a few times with him, thought he was nice, and had enjoyed having sex with the guy. I never expected he would feel entitled to more than I willingly gave.
I spent months bouncing between depression and anxiety. I had nearly finished my book And Be Happy: A Memoir of Recovery from Abuse, and I began to question every bit of myself. How could I reconcile optimism with what had just happened to me?
Most people I told were supportive, but I noticed they were abuse survivors also. I wondered if only we could understand domestic violence and abuse are wrong.
An Unexpected Story
My friend, Opal*, was in his backyard at night. He heard noise in the fig tree behind him and thought it was an intruder. He told me it was the first time he’d ever felt afraid he might be attacked. The intruder ended up being a raccoon.
“It makes me realize,” he said, “just how little an idea I have of what it’s like to be hurt like that.”
It struck me how new it was to have someone say that to me. I can’t explain how validated I felt by the vulnerability in his response, admitting he was at a loss rather than trying to sidestep the issue.
I encourage you, fellow survivors, to be open to such experiences. I’m not saying to blindly trust people who haven’t showed you they’re safe, but maintain some level of hope. Be open to seeing the support from less expected places.
Have you been surprised by where you have found support? I’d love to hear in the comments below how allies, people who haven’t been directly hurt by domestic violence, helped you keep going when you’ve been down.
*This name has been changed.
Rebecca encourages survivors of domestic to speak about their experiences and to lean on each other for support.