Rebirth

Something has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s a topic I have visited before. Victim vs Survivor. I am not sure why it’s started to revisit my mind, but it is there.

Let’s go over the facts. I have been raped and abused. I became pregnant with my rapists baby, and then miscarried.  I cannot sugar coat it. I have reached the point since therapy of being able to say it aloud. I was raped. Does this make me a survivor though, or a victim?

According to Dictionary.com a survivor is one who continues to function despite hardships or setbacks whereas a victim is person or who suffers harm or death from another or from some adverse act. So where do I fit in for this?

I’ve gone through years of depression. At my lowest, suicide seemed to be the best and only answer. My only way to feel better.  I no longer felt anything. As my ability to feel became a thing of the past, self-mutilation became a new hobby; an addiction which was the only way I would allow myself to feel anything. I was the one in control of how much and what I was feeling, along with when I was able to feel.  Feeling anything was too painful, making it harder and harder to get through the days without people seeing something was wrong. So I decided to not feel. I pushed all emotions to a place and locked them up tight. I stopped feeling.

With stopping the emotions, I could make it through the day. Then the next day. And the next. Pretty soon I was making it through one week. Then two weeks. Then three. Before I knew it I was making it through one month. Then two months. Then three. Eventually I just didn’t feel and managed to think this was a normal state to be in. I was able to function day to day and no one was the wiser.  If I wanted to feel anything I would, by controlling it myself. I chose when to feel and how. I would self-mutilate. I cut myself. The need to release some emotion decided how deeply or how many. Some left scars. Some did not. It left me in charge of how and when I felt and how deeply I felt.

I eventually went to individual and group therapy. I saw a plethora of psychiatrists. This would help, and I reached a small break through. I was able to stop harming myself (a tiny miracle in my world). I was still unable to feel, but I was no longer hurting myself.

I was always addressing the effects of the rape, though not the rape itself.  I addressed depression; the inability to feel or desire not to.  I was unable to sleep. When I could I had nightmares. I was scared of any real or imagined noises. My own shadow scared me. I remember one time I was vacuuming, and my shadow was cast on the wall behind me. Enough to see it out of the corner of my eye. I had a panic attack. It came to the point that I was unable to work. I was having panic attacks at work, going to work, and after work. I was unable to function. I quit my job. I knew I had to. I needed help.

Up to this point, I was a victim. I allowed what happened to me to dictate how I was. It became who I was. It ruled me. I was a victim and took that title to heart. I was a shadow of myself. I did not even know who I was anymore.

I did seek help. The right kind of help this time. I admitted to myself what had happened. I admitted to a few that were close to me, including my parents, what had happened to me. I made it clear that I didn’t want to be treated differently, but that it’s beyond the point of being able to deal with it alone. I needed help, and not just for depression. I needed help dealing with the trauma and aftereffects of being raped. It was no longer something that I could ignore. It had taken my life over. It had been dictating what I do, how I act, where I go, and I needed it to stop. I needed to be in charge again. I needed to be human.

I went to counseling at the local Rape center.

This was the miracle I was looking for. I slowly started to live again. With each session, I was able to stand up a little straighter. I was not hiding in the corner. I was able to refer to it as “the incident,” then as “the attack,” and finally as “the rape.” I was able to say “rape” without a panic attack. I could reference it without getting sick each time. Eventually, I could talk about it, stating it happened in the past. And a while in the past, not the night before. Slowly my nightmares have subsided. I have had only a few in the past year. I have only had one panic attack recently, but it was in regard to my fear of bridges, not of being attacked. I haven’t had a relapse of cutting in over a year. I’ve replaced the cutting with tattoos instead. I have art to remind me of hope.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote

Sparrows

Sparrows

I have had a smile on my face and a cheerful demeanor lately. I have a functioning and loving relationship with someone who means the world to me. I have a job where I am not having panic attacks every few days. I’m no longer an emotionless zombie. I have feelings and emotions which pour out of me. Sometimes it’s more than it should be, but I’ll take it. I feel as if I’ve become a beautiful person full of love and joy with a little wear and tear, but stronger for it.

Does that make me a victim or a survivor?

I was raped, and I survived. It took me a bit to find my courage and strength, but I found it and fought back for my life. Now I am living.

I’m not a victim, nor am I a survivor. I’m a fighter. I fought for my life, and I have won.

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15 thoughts on “Rebirth

  1. Alice, you have no idea how very happy it makes me to see all the progress you have made since we first met. I wish you all the happiness in the world.

  2. You have come amazingly far… farther than most people, I suspect. I’m so glad to read things like this! Thanks!

    • Thank you! I had the help and support of amazing people, both here and in person. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know if I would have made it as far as I have. I wish everyone could read this. So they know that there is hope.

  3. I’m so sorry that happened to you but thrilled to read that you’ve taken your life back. This post is so full of hope. It’s wonderful to hear that you’re happy xo

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