There are moments in our lives when we are stronger than we ever believed we could be. And then, there are other times when we feel like we can no longer carry the weight that the world has put on us. We all have our stories, our traumas, our missteps. Moments we want to wish away. But the question is, without these hardships, would we really be who we were meant to be? Would our character be as sturdy? Would our spirits be so strong? I can say without a doubt, everything I've been through made me more tenacious.
One of my most painful experiences in life would come in the latter part of 2018. It took all of the strength I possessed to heal from this trauma, and I am alive to tell this story today, so I know that it's meant for me to tell it.
On a night where my only intent was to enjoy a night with friends and return home to family, I was violated and assaulted. I couldn't recall much of the night, as I had been drinking and had only returned to my car to retrieve my purse and lock my doors to call an Uber home. I was attacked from behind, forced into my own vehicle, and in an instant, was made to feel powerless, weak, and minuscule. I didn't have much strength in comparison to my attacker, but I'd fought with all of the strength that I did have. I was punched, grabbed, choked and threatened with what he said was a gun. Against my better judgement and with terror I could feel in my whole body, I was able to stretch and mash my horn.
I found myself in shock, not thinking clearly, crying uncontrollably, visibly bruised, screaming at the top of my lungs, drunk out of my mind, and alone. I didn't know what to do. I wondered why no one helped me, why no one had heard me and I just wanted to go home. My mind flashed a million miles a minute to the questions I would be asked, wondering what kind of clothes I had on, wondering if I had given someone the wrong idea, wondering if I'd been dancing provocatively, wondering if I had screamed or said no. I don't remember how exactly I made it home. How I'd driven my car and made it home in one piece. I remember feeling shocked. Not being able to speak. I remember passing out, and knowing that I was home providing me with some relief.
The next day felt like I was moving in slow motion. My ribs felt like they would break, my eyes bloodshot red, my hair coming out in clumps. My spirit was in pieces. I felt like I had been thrown at a wall and shattered into a million pieces. I couldn't speak. I couldn't even cry anymore. I just felt... broken. I knew about rape kits, the importance of going straight to the hospital and filing a police report. I knew about DNA evidence. I knew about precautions, I knew about watching your surroundings. I knew all of that, but in that moment, nothing I knew was enough. I felt sick to my stomach. I could've burned my skin off my body and showered in bleach. I scrubbed until my skin was red and still didn't feel clean enough. knew what I had to do, but I didn't have the strength or the capacity to do it.
It took me hours to get out of bed. It took me hours to sit down with the love of my life and tell him what happened to me. He'd asked why I hadn't called him, why I hadn't gone to the police station, the hospital, why I'd come straight home. He tried to talk to me. Comfort me. But I was angry, I was in a haze. I was in disbelief. I couldn't explain anything I was thinking the night before, but I knew I had to go now. I needed to be by myself. I felt so weak and I needed to find my own strength in that moment.
I traveled to the hospital, in my car, where everything had happened. I threw up on the side of the road, and sat blankly in the ER parking lot for 30 minutes before I gathered myself enough to get out. Nothing that was happening felt real. But here I was, under a microscope, the nurses and doctors apologizing and staring at me with their sad eyes, knowing that I could fall apart any minute. My body floated through the entire experience without my mind present. I was checked, tested, questioned, assisted in filing a report and eventually discharged with a million pamphlets on what to do next, and numbers to call. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
I got in my car again and drove myself home. I stared at the word "rape" on my discharge paperwork and proceeded to bawling uncontrollably parked in front of my house. When I walked in the house, I was greeted by my sweet babies. My 1 year old and my 3 year old. And in that moment, as soon as I heard the word "mommy", something in me clicked. I realized the harsh truth that I was not allowed to break. I had two little people who depended on me to love them and make sure that they were okay. So I had to become okay. I couldn't let a man, who's face I'd never seen be the defining factor of my sanity. I had to find a bit of strength and grasp onto it as tight as I could.
In the weeks that followed, that strength came from my man, my babies and my friends. I hadn't spoken much about it, except to my close friends. I never imagined feeling as empty and hopeless and afraid as I did. Never thought I'd need to break as hard as I did to find a part of myself that was strong enough to put me back together. Still, I'll remember the sweatshirt and sweatpants I'd worn, that weren't provocative or suggestive. I'll remember that I knew I was in no condition to drive, and that I was being responsible. I'll remember having to give blood and urine for STD testing and not knowing what the results would be. I'll remember my boyfriend holding onto me as tight as he possibly could every night for 2 weeks straight. And I'll remember that on this day, I'm alive. I walked away with a clean bill of health and my life. I walked away with the ability to tell my story.
And after all of that is said and done, I am making the conscious decision to not be broken and to be a light in the darkness I experienced. I am choosing to create and be positive for those around me because the world has enough hate and pain in it that I refuse to contribute to.
This took a lot out of me, and I still have a lot of healing to do, but I haven't let it consume or destroy me and I hope that whatever you may go through, you decide to let it make you stronger, even if you feel weak. I survived my trauma. You can survive yours too.