My high school english teacher gave us an assignment, and the assignment was to write about a time that changed my life forever. Keep in mind the assignment was supposed to be two paragraphs. Two paragraphs turned into two pages and suddenly I found myself pouring my heart out about the moment that defined the rest of my life; the night I was raped. After my rape I wanted to make a difference, and the perfect way to do that was call attention to it and let people know the real aftermath and healing. Without further ado, A Letter to my Rapist.
Does that word sound real? Rapist. I am at a loss for words anytime I hear it. My heart aches to go back, but alas my world has changed. No longer am I the care free and jubilant teen that I once was. Now around every corner and in every dark alley I see your face. You never even graced me with an explanation or an apology. Do you realize the earth shaking impact of your actions? Of course you do not, because if you did, I am not sure you would have made the same choices.
September 30, 2017. A day immortalized in evil rather than good. The weather was serene, a slight breeze blowing through the air. It was peaceful, and a feeling of tranquility washed over me. Lin Manuel-Miranda wrote, “In the eye of a hurricane there is quiet”, and this was my special hurricane. Walking outside to the car the sun warmed my pale skin. Birds chirped a sweet melody and the cool September breeze swept my hair around my face. I headed to work - just like any Saturday. Working at an ice cream shop, smiles are served up on a constant basis; I set to work scooping other people's happiness into small bowls and fresh cones and sent them on their way. At the end of the night I found myself humming a little tune as I left work. With a wonderful day of work under my belt I decided to meet up with some friends for dinner. We laughed and joked and ate great food, elevating my mood. I was the last to leave dinner, and this was my fatal flaw. As I fumbled through my bag looking for my keys I felt a sharp pain the back of my head and began to fall forward. My forehead smashed into the doorway of my car, and the world became a blur. When I opened my eyes I saw the glint of the serrated hunting knife being held against my face - that is when I chose to close my eyes. In the quiet of the night I heard the tearing of my denim jeans and cotton shirt. I never was very religious, but in that moment I began to pray. I prayed for someone to find me, I prayed for the torture to end. Soon enough, I gave up praying. I felt every moment of that heartbreak, time moved by as slow as it possibly could. Finally, the world went dark.
October 1, 2017. I woke up alone and in excruciating pain. I was laying in my car; keys on the floor. My clothes were torn and there was blood running down my legs and face. Shaken, alone and afraid, I called the last dialed number on my phone- my friend from dinner, Cory. He sent a mutual friend to come pick me up. I was relieved he did not ask any questions, probably per Cory’s request. He slid into my drivers seat and set out on the road. Just as I began drifting away into thought, I saw the car swerve and everything went black. I woke up again to nurses running around me. Unsure of how long I had been unconscious I reached out to try and speak, try and ask where I am. Nothing would come out of my mouth; I was paralyzed with fear. My eyes lifted to the door and saw a tall and lanky man sitting in a plastic chair. He looked young with his freshly shaven face and chiseled jaw. His right hand rested on the gun attached to his hip. The badge on his chest read “Durham Police Department”. His knee bounced up and down as he fiddled with the latch to his holster. Feelings of anxiety and dread seemed to radiate from the officer with each tick of the clock. I directed my attention to my arms where I saw wires and IV lines attached. They did not look like my arms, they were too swollen and bruised. Hours passed until I was able to tell them who I was and give them a number to contact my family.Over the next few hours I went in and out of consciousness. Once stabilized they began collecting evidence for my rape kit. Four hours and many doses of medication later I was finally able to leave and go home.
October 2, 2017. I began the walk up the stairs to the Children’s Wing of Duke Hospital. Each step pounded in my ears, with each step my heart sank a little lower. Hours passed, blood was drawn, and each moment I felt as though my identity was slipping away. The doctor prescribed multiple medications to prevent the worst from happening and sent me on my way. I got behind the wheel of the car and screamed into the abyss. Salty tears streamed down my face and I felt as if my heart had exploded into a million pieces. I was breaking down from the inside out. The weeks to come were all a blur. When people brushed against me I flinched thinking it was you. When I was home I buried my head in my pillows, and howled into the chasm of oblivion. Between my physical sickness and the sickness in my heart, I felt as if I was dying. I could not seem to die.
Physically, it was clear to see that I was a wreck. My car was crashed, medication coursed through my veins. With every heave of my chest I prayed that it would be my last, but somehow I was still working through the motions. I attended physical therapy during the week to regain full motion in my hip. I did not mind going; it allowed me to have a distraction from the darkest thoughts running through my head. Emotionally, I had hit rock bottom. The world seemed as if it was flying around me, and I was stuck in a block of ice - frozen in time and despair. I was isolated, though I could see others moving around me. I was numb to any feelings that once took up residence in my heart. Depression gripped me with its tight iron fist and shook me to the core. I woke up in cold sweats from night terrors; sleep was not an option. With the lack of sleep I became paranoid, while friends and family were showing concern I began to see them as enemies mocking me. I briskly walked down every hallway and road, thinking if I slowed down you would be there again waiting. My parents tightened their grip on my leash for fear of losing me; this only drove me further away. Friends began walking on eggshells around me, so afraid to say the wrong thing and break me in half. They did not understand what had happened and did not understand how to help me. And you. You walked away without a scratch, and when they finally caught you they did not have enough evidence to prosecute you. My bloody skin and crying eyes were not enough to charge you with anything. You walked away from any punishment without even apologizing once.
Through everything that has happened to me, I somehow held on to the thought that things will get better- that this was just a raincloud and the rainbow is just around the corner. I began to transfix myself into music, searching for lyrics to scream in open fields to release my darkest thoughts. I reached out to people online who have been through the same thing that I went through. I met countless men and women who had lived through a sexual assault similar to mine and lived to tell about it. Through countless therapy sessions they each told their stories and shared the many things I could not bring myself to admit to myself. These anonymous men and women claim a major role in my road to recovery. From their songs of sorrow I taught myself three things: I am resilient, I am strong, and I am worth something. Resilience did not happen at first, I stumbled to regain my balance on the tightrope I had been walking for years. I searched for the balance between acceptance and self-pity. Strength came next, slowly but surely. I found myself gliding over smaller problems because I knew I had already survived the worst. Learning that I am worth something has taken much longer. It is something I struggle with today and will continue to struggle with for a long time. Some days I wake up and look in the mirror and tell myself that I can do this because I am worth it and my life is worth it. Others days, I just stare at every faint line and dot on my skin and have flashbacks to the gash about my eye and tears running down my face. Healing is a process, and I am proud that I have fought this hard and have come this far.
You see, you did not ruin me. When you stripped away my identity, I wrapped myself in self-love and happiness. When you shattered the world I knew, I simply took super glue and built a new galaxy full of exotic moons and shining stars. While you were tearing me down, I was reinforcing the doors to my soul with steel and iron - praying the doors would hold. You might have chased me into the darkest parts of my mind, but I lit a candle and let the flame dance along the walls until I was ready to show my face to the world. As you stole my voice from my body, I learned to speak with my hands. To you, I was an object you could ruin. Beware that I am no object, I am a person with my own thoughts and feelings, and I will not be told I am any less. My pain is not background noise to a soundtrack stuck on repeat; it is an anthem that I will sing every morning as the sun rises to light my path out of the darkness. You might have chosen the topic, but you do not get to dictate my narrative.
My name is Aubrey Grace, and I am a seventeen year old girl living in North Carolina. My favorite thing to do is sit in coffee shops and observe people and write a story based off of them. I started writing when I was in elementary school and it just stuck; to this day it is still my greatest love and biggest passion. One day I pray to make a career out of it