My life is divided into two parts. Pre-2008 and post-2008. My life changed forever in that year when I was date-raped.
I waited three days before seeing a doctor and the examination was just as much of a violation as the attack. There was no way that I would have emotionally survived an investigation so I chose to not press charges.
I spent three months in and out of bed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I couldn’t go anywhere alone. I couldn’t sleep. I had panic attacks. I couldn’t cope at work and my colleagues crucified me.
My mother’s death in 2010 was the catalyst that sent me completely over the edge. I sought help and finally received the correct medication. For the first time since the attack, I was me again.
If you are going through something similar, try to remember the following:
- Get to a doctor or a hospital as soon as possible to receive the necessary preventative medication. The last thing you want, is to contract HIV or become pregnant.
- Chose your confidantes carefully. I chose to speak out because I chose to not be a victim. But I soon learnt that many people cannot deal with such things. Many of them didn’t believe me and there was a lot of gossip.
Being a christian I assumed that church-going Christians would support me but it didn’t turn out that way. There were the exceptions however, to whom I am forever grateful. People you least expect might step up to the plate and lend you the support you need.
- Seek professional help. You may need to see a psychologist or counselor or even a psychiatrist. Don’t shun anti-depressants completely. They saved my life.
- Be kind to yourself. Cry and rage as much as you need to. Don’t keep it bottled up.
- Start rebuilding your life. It really does get better in time. By giving up, you let your attacker win.
- Try to remember it is not your fault. It was never about your clothes or how far you let it go before you said no. It was their choice not yours. It was never about you in the first place.
- Embrace your spirituality. Don’t turn your back on God. You are going to need him more than ever.
- Don’t set a time limit on your healing. It’s a very personal journey and each person is unique.
- Lastly, the most important lesson I learnt was to just breathe. When you feel like you can’t make it another minute, just breathe.
I still avoid the topic of rape and I cringe inside whenever I hear that word. When I speak about my experience, I talk about “the attack”. I never call it what it really is. I can’t bring myself to even say the word.
I still carry the scars but the burden is getting lighter. I am through the worst. I have faced it down and I have won. You can too.
There is life on the other side. I promise.