Nineteen years ago today, the man across the street, a friend of my lover and housemate's, came over to wait for my housemate's return home.
Nineteen years ago today, the man across the street beat me, dragged me across the floor, and raped me in my living room.
Nineteen years, and I still blame myself for not grabbing one of the kitchen knives.
Nineteen years, and I still blame myself for being too scared to scream; I tried, oh how I tried, and it wouldn't come out.
Nineteen years, and I blame myself for not fighting back hard enough to push him off and chase him out, despite his hitting me in the eye with his fist over and over again, despite his having quite a few inches and at least a hundred pounds of weight more than I, despite everything.
Yes, I put him in jail. He got three years, and was out in eighteen months. I got life. To this day, I still trigger at times. By ten years ago, I was no longer having screaming nightmares at least once a month, but on occasion I still do. To this day, nobody can touch my hair without my permission, especially the back of my hair.
Nineteen years ago today, my life changed. I lost the person I was then, that day. I lost a great deal of zest, joy, and resilience. I used to shine with lifespark. I have never been able to reclaim that person, and I miss her still.
Nineteen years ago, I swore an oath to myself, on the person I had been: never again. Never again. Someone will die first.
I am not a victim; I am a survivor. I do not want pity, or "oh, I'm so sorry, that's terrible". I want you to learn and understand what causes men to rape and what can be done about it to prevent it beforehand. I want you to understand that 25% of the women in the States will be raped sometime in their lifetimes, and that there is not one thing any single one of them did to deserve it, "ask for it", dress for it, etc. I want you to understand that rape is the fault of the rapist, nobody else. I want you to find out what you personally can do to help stop rape.
I am River.
I am a survivor of rape.
No pity. No shame. No silence.
Note: this post may be forwarded or linked where appropriate, especially to/by other survivors. I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know where it goes.