“Why are you telling people he raped you?”
I stood there, stunned. I wasn’t fully out yet as a survivor. I went away to college and felt liberated to tell my story there, but not at home where it happened. “W-what?”
She repeated her statement, but I was still dumbfounded. Then, I remembered.
Two-and-a-half months ago, I sat in my dorm room on my high-lofted bed, trying not to cry. I remembered looking at the concrete ceiling. “Why did you tell him?”
My friend, sitting in a chair, shrugged. She looked uncomfortable, but spoke nonchalantly. “I wanted him to know that I knew what he did to you.”
I jumped up. “But now he’s going to…I don’t know what he’s going to do! You should’ve asked!” I wasn’t ready for my rapist to know he was a rapist. I just found out I was raped, myself. She had told my rapist she knew he’d raped me, and nobody asked her to do that.
“Oh, I didn’t know you didn’t want that.” She never said sorry, and we never spoke about it again.
Months later, it was coming to bite me back in the ass. I was at my high school’s alumni party, and one of my classmates had pulled me aside. My rapist had told her I was telling people at my university that he’d raped me, and she wanted to know why I’d say such an outrageous thing. He was looking to save his reputation there, knowing it might be tarnished elsewhere. Three more people that night asked me the same question. My life at home was now gone, sullied by a reveal I never asked for.
Going home in general has always been hard for me. My mother and I have a respectful yet strained relationship, my father and I are still at odds because he feels the rape was my own fault, my grandma’s house feels depressing without my grandma, and my younger brother is going through that weird, adolescence phase where he hates everything. Going away for college was the best decision for me – not only to get ahead in this capitalist society ran by primarily degree-holders, but to get away from a home that was never really a home.
But still, I never thought I’d be ex-communicated for existing in my abused body. Sure, going home wasn’t going to be a priority, but I never expected for locals passively harass me. I wasn’t hurt, but being reminded everywhere I went that I was a survivor was…infuriating. Frustrating. Depressing.
It’s been three years since that happened, and I want to pretend I’ve moved past it, but I’m not there yet. I am becoming more firm in how I handle locals when they try it, but it still stuns me. Two days before Christmas this year, a classmate stopped me at Wal-Mart and tried to catch up. In the midst of the, “How’s school?” she asked, “I heard you’re saying X raped you. What happened?”
I was shaken, but politely told her that she should contact me in a more formal way if she wanted the answer. Silence is abusers biggest accomplice, and I’m not afraid of breaking that silence. But I only want to speak my truth on my terms, and on my time.
Going home is still hard for me. I am reminded of what happened here in my youth, and how no matter how old I get, the past cannot change. But I am changing, and while home is still the same place, I am not the same person.