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Trauma

Monday was one of seriously one of my worst days. My headspace is all messed up and I need to write it down. I'm going to do so in two posts.

Trigger Warning
Sunday night, though it was after midnight so technically Monday. I was in bed unable to sleep. The furnace, we discovered that night, was not blowing air. I had showered so my hair was wet and I was cold. However, it wasn't the cold that was keeping me awake. It was memories replaying in my head and rage that was keeping me awake into the wee hours of the morning.

This election is so ugly. I don't feel like I need to rehash current events for anyone who might be reading right now, but for future Mir, looking back, I think it's important to note. On Friday the tape of Trump's "grab the pussy" conversation hit. He tried to pass it off as "locker room conversation" On Sunday, before the debate, Trump paraded the woman accusing Bill Clinton of rape. I didn't watch the debates but I saw coverage of this political stunt some douche bag orchestrated to detour attention away from Trump's casual views on assaulting women. Assault on women, rape and rape culture has become a trending topic. I mean it's been a hot button issue this whole election cycle and with the Brock Turner story it has been part of the media conversation. Something about it this weekend, though, really struck a chord with me.

I was in bed and I was thinking about all the stories women were sharing on Facebook of times they were assaulted as a collective force to illustrate how commonplace it is. I couldn't think of the first time I was assaulted in such a way. There was the memory of the perv in the window of his apartment masturbating to us kids playing in the sandbox when I was six. That was traumatizing. I wasn't sure if that would have counted. That rabbit hole of thought lead me to think about the time that I was raped...and it I couldn't stop and I couldn't sleep for hours.

I haven't really written about it much here at all. A handful of my friends know but not all. it was 2009. I was at a party at my own home. I know it sounds so stupid now but due to some things that unfolded at the party I was upset about a fella I liked being more interested in my friend than me and my friend kinda going for it when my friend knew I liked this person. it's such 20s something bullshit now to think about it. However, having had a lot to drink and the fact that unrequited love was the seemingly inescapable theme of my young life, I was an emotional wreck. A person at the party who I was aquainted with used my emotionally vulnerable state and employed flattery to get into my pants. At first, I was consenting, even so far as to make sure to have a condom. However, when it was happening, in a moment of clarity, i saw that I was making a bad decision and doing something that I was going to regret in the morning. I asked to stop but the person didn't stop. I tried to get up and get away but the person pinned me down. This person outweighed me by at least 80 pounds, and I had bruises where they were holding me down. I gave up fighting it and just shut down and my turned my face away, waiting for it to pass, trears streaming from my eyes. When the person was done with me they left me on my bed, went back out to the party and smoked a goddmaned cigarette on my deck with my friends as if nothing had happened. Raye checked in on me and saw the state I was in--discarded, naked and crying on my bed--and kicked my rapist out of the party.

I stayed shut down for almost a week. Embarrassment, Shame, Self-loathing, Worthlessness the only emotions I could feel. When I eventually did come of that place enough to be able to talk about it with Raye I still , at the time, only called it being "half raped" because I still blamed myself for being "that emotional drunk girl" at the party who put herself in that position by consenting  in the first place.

So fast forwarding the wee hours of Monday morning, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I couldn't stop thinking about all the other times I had put myself in danger out there in the world only to have it have it happen to me at my own home, in my own bed, only feet away from all my friends.I grappled with how for years I equated being a "strong woman" with not putting myself in a situation where that could happen to me and how, in turn, that puts the onus on me for it happening. I thought about how the incident itself made me feel dehumanized, reduced to nothing but a hole, and then discarded like I was nothing when the person was finished made me feel terrible. However, the internalization, the same, the believing myself to be worthless was a product of cultural conditioning that it was my own fault for being "that girl" who let emotions and drink get the better of her.

I thought about how rape culture made me feel like I was the weak one, but, at the same time, I hate how in conversations about the topic in the media victims are said to be "ruined" "scarred for life" "forever traumatized" from their experience. I mean, since this affected me at the time and affected me as I sat up all night thinking about it seven years later, clearly, yes I have been traumatized to an extent. However, I'm a perfectly functioning human being who goes on her daily life not thinking about it. I struggle with this sometimes because the worst thing to happen to me was the catalyst to one of the best things that happened to me. The depression from the event, the dissatisfaction with life, drove me to step it up and really make going to grad school in London a reality. There's no way of knowing if the bad thing didn't happen if i wouldn't have still made it Goldsmiths but it was definitely a turning point, a motivator for getting the hell out of Seattle. So I take issue with the narrative that victims of rape are "ruined" but that's not to say that I'm going to thank the person for shaking me out of my comfort zone and driving me from my home, either. I wanted to prove to myself that I was a strong woman who could handle taking on the world by herself.

I'm glad calling out rape culture is part of the conversation. I'm glad we are moving forward collectively to correct victim blaming and calling out attitudes that normalize assault. It's just not an easy conversation to have. Over the years this conversation and shift in attitudes has really helped me absolve my own self-loathing on the matter. We victims are probably the harshest victim blamers because once you've been dehumanized, it's easy to impose it on yourself. Still, when the entire media is focused on the subject, you can't check your Facebook feed, or read the paper of watch TV without rape and sexual assault being the focus, it's easy for all those thoughts and memories to come roaring back and in my case, bouncing around in my head all night.

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