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The lasting trauma of rape

Dear Cary,


I have written this letter to you many times … although almost exclusively in my imagination. I am continuously waiting for someone else to write a letter to you that speaks to this specific moment in my life; and although there has been some overlap over the years, I continuously come up with general similarities rather than meaningful personal guidance. I am not the sort of person who asks for help. And I am not the sort of person who solicits advice without acknowledging that I am exposing myself to a peculiar (and scary) brand of naked vulnerability. But here goes …

I am a 28-year-old woman. I currently live in a big, although continuously struggling, metropolitan area that I love for its bizarre complexity. I grew up in a rather small community that I ached to get out of even as I found myself repeatedly returning to it throughout my life. I was sexually assaulted when I was 18 years old (and far away from home) during my freshman year of college. He was a rather popular and extremely successful athlete on my college campus. This event occurred two weeks after I lost my virginity to a different man whom I wholly adored and who quite suddenly left me for an ex-girlfriend. I was quite naive and extraordinarily heartbroken. Without this precipitating circumstance, I would not have been selected, not have been vetted out, by the man who would change the course of my life. I was, and this is hard to admit, selected as a target by someone who felt the need to take from me what I wasn't willing to give at a moment when he knew I was the most vulnerable.

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