#MeToo and the f*cked up logic of rape myths



My “me, too” moment came this morning, after a lengthy thought conversation with myself over the last few days. Most honestly, I feel like my story has been told, both on social media platforms, in the court room, and verbally amongst friends, family, and therapists, and I feel like this should be enough. I shouldn’t have to keep using my experience (which oftentimes drudges up old, painful feelings that I have yet to completely process) to advocate for the cause of validating assault victims’ experiences and pushing forward the truth of sexual assault while dispelling the associated rape myths. No one should have to keep bringing attention to the things that have invalidated them in the hopes that another person might read it and realize, “oh, I guess there really is a problem!” This should be an accepted norm: to immediately recognize that a wrong has taken place upon hearing of a sexual assault/sexual harassment instance, and to validate the sharer’s experiences and feelings from the get go. This is the only way to deal with sexual assault, and I cannot understand why this is so hard for people to accept. It’s beyond me, why I have to keep defending myself. I was raped. I was raped. I was raped. It took me two very long, painful years to fully understand that it wasn’t my fault. Yet still, even a second of guilt and/or shame felt by a victim/survivor is too much, which is why I’ve delved into the deepest feelings of this event and decided to share it, yet again, though a little differently this time.

This semester, I learned of Toulmin’s construction of an argument in rhetoric, and I will use it here to illustrate the completely asinine views of some people that fuel this need for victims/survivors to share their stories over and over again. The first element to this construction is the claim, which for a lot of rape myth believers is some form of these (I am using these because I have personal experience with this particular set of rape myths): “She/he/they deserved it”, “she/he/they asked for it”, and “she/he/they should have said no more forcefully”. The second element to Toulmin’s claim is data, which for these myths are, respectively: “She/he/they was/were acting in a way that some (typically more conservative people) would say is inappropriate”, “she/he/they was/were acting in a promiscuous way”, and “she/he/they didn’t convince the perpetrator that the act was unwanted”. Now, the third element (the the last element for the purposes of this note) is a warrant, which, for all of the aforementioned claims and data, respectively, are: “anyone who acts inappropriately deserves whatever heinous act comes their way”, “acting promiscuously is an implicit invitation for unwanted sexual advances in all circumstances”, and “The responsibility of the sexual assault/harassment instance that took place falls completely on the shoulders of the victim/survivor”. I would like to note that the last warrant is completely the opposite of what a victim/survivor should feel.

Now, for the first argument, which I will reiterate: She/he/they deserved it because she/he/they was/were acting in an inappropriate way. This implies (the warrant) that inappropriateness is an open invitation for people to commit heinous acts. Let’s apply this logic to murder: Jane Doe deserved to get murdered because she was throwing beer mugs against the wall and smashing them, which made the bartender irrationally angry. Implied is the horrendous warrant that anyone who throws beer mugs against a wall at a bar deserves to be murdered. I don’t know of a single person who would accept this warrant, so why then, do people accept this line of thinking when it comes to sexual assault? Are they not both crimes? Are they not both despicable? Are they not punishable regardless of the surrounding circumstances? I could provide more data, claims, and warrants for all of these questions, but I choose to think humanity isn’t so far gone as to understand that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes” (with the exception of the first “why” question, which is a question I’m attempting to point out as, unfortunately, still relevant with this very note).

Secondly, let us examine the second argument: She/he/they asked for it because she/he/they was/were acting promiscuously. Implied: promiscuity is an open cattle call for all unwanted sexual advances/harassment/assault. Again, let’s apply this logic to murder: Jane doe asked to get murdered because she was flaunting a gun she had just bought at a bar that caters to gun owners and allows those with a legally owned gun to bring them inside (the Wild West was my inspiration for this scenario). This implies that anyone who flaunts a gun at this bar asks to get murdered. Let’s think this through for a minute: what would a reasonable person do in this instance? I believe they would ask her to put it away if they felt uncomfortable, or they would ignore it. If another were to walk up to her and, out of uncontrollable want for that gun, take it away from her, we would call that theft. End of story. There wouldn’t be one hundred op-ed articles debating over whether or not she asked for her gun to be stolen.

For the third argument I want to first bring up a few statements which I believe hold true. A drunk person not saying no due to inebriation is not consent. A person who is unable to say no due to the freeze response (look up fight, flight, or freeze) is not consent. A person who initiates sexual activity and later changes their mind is not consent. Being someone’s spouse/partner is not consent. A sixteen year old allowing an adult to take advantage them is not consent. With that being said, here is the third argument: she/he/they should have said no more forcefully because the perpetrator didn’t know the act was unwanted.This implies that all consequences of unwanted sexual activity should fall on the victim/survivor if the perpetrator claims to have not known that the activity was unwanted. Murder scenario: Jane Doe is inebriated, leaning against a building in an alley, when someone comes up to her and says, “unless you run or tell me not to, I’m going to shoot you”. When Jane, unable to move or process the perpetrators words in a timely fashion, doesn’t respond, the perpetrator shoots her, leaving her for dead. When questioned, they say, in defense of their actions, “I thought she wanted me to shoot her! She never said she didn’t want it, even after I gave her the option.” If you’re reading this and thinking about how incredibly crazy this scenario sounds, you’re on the right track, although I recognize the shortcomings in this particular instance, namely that shooting someone is never okay in any circumstance, whereas sex is a perfectly legal activity that can be consented to and enjoyed; but I believe it still serves the purpose of highlighting the flaws in rape myth arguments, because to me, that’s exactly how people defending their sexual assaults/harassment sound when they claim to have not known that the act was unwanted. When there is any question at all as to whether or not someone gives consent, best not to engage in the sexual activity at all. That is the decent person thing to do. Period. If someone misreads the signs, decides to have sex with someone anyway, and ends up getting accused of rape, they are still responsible for their actions. Much like statutory rape is a strict liability (meaning intent does not have to present), taking a gamble with someone who isn’t fully coherent enough to give explicit consent with the present ability to stop the activity at any given moment is, in my eyes, also a strict liability.

In sum, I understand that my parallels are not perfect (I am no rhetoric scholar, but I do think these arguments serve well for the purposes of this note). Rather, I hope they help to engage in a conversation that is not entirely rooted in emotion, but also appeals to the logic behind sexual assault, sexual harassment, and any other unwanted sexual advances (illegal or not). I hope it gets people to think twice about their own rape myth acceptance, and to more deeply examine just how complacent we are when it comes to acknowledging and dispelling these myths. In my experience, I’ve heard a multitude of individualistic rationalizations such as, “well, I’m not going to dress that way, so I won’t get raped” and other arguments of the like that also perpetuate these rape myths. Putting a positive spin on faulty logic is just as bad as believing these myths as they are. I truly hope these musings of mine help to further the advocacy on behalf of sexual assault victims/survivors, and my thoughts are always with those who have suffered through any form of unwanted sexual activity/harassment. Lastly, I would like to make it crystal clear, for those in the back, for those that can’t get out of bed, for those, like me, who have severe anxiety, and for those that so selflessly and willingly (more willingly than I), share their stories in an effort to help shed light on this subject, that your experiences are valid, and you are worth every bit as much as the next person who walks this earth.

Reference (APA):

Brockreide, W. & Ehninger, D. (1960). Toulmin on argument: an interpretation and         application. Quarterly Journal of Spech, 46, 44–53. doi (published online in 2009): 10.1080/00335636009382390


Happy Birthday, Rapist


In the outside world, today is just another weird winter/summer day in South Carolina. But in my head, I know it is Dad’s birthday.That he is 38 years old. My family, the family he doesn’t deserve but probably needs more than me, if I’m being honest, will celebrate with him, assure him that “this is the year!” “Great things will happen to you, we’ve finally put it all behind us.” “We don’t need her anyways.” “Maybe one day, she’ll come around.”

All varying degrees of sadness, anger, and grief felt towards me. In their reality, he is the victim, I am the offender. Ah yes, I offended their denial and pettiness and ignorance. Whoops.

I wish I could deliver an arrest warrent to his house today. I wish I could serve him with papers saying he has to be in court on this specific day so the grand jury can finally hear my side of the fucking story. I want him to suffer for what he did. I wish I could send a gift of suffering his way. Wrapped with a bow and 38 candles. Just try and blow these out in one breath.

Two years ago, I woke up on this day and called him, all giddy and excited because birthdays are like crack to me. I sang him happy birthday, chided him for not being in a better mood and told him to “quit being so negative, we’re going to have FUN!”

A year ago, I woke up on this day and cried because I missed him. A lot. I was grieving and terribly sad that we couldn’t spend his birthday together. I sang happy birthday to an empty room, chided myself for not being in a better mood, and told my relfection, “quit being so negative, this day is going to be FANTASTIC.”

But today, I woke up, had a tiny inkling that this day held something special to me. I glanced at the calendar when I got to work, and I knew it used to be one of those days I decorated with hearts and exclamation pionts on my calendar. But my planner was blank. Nothing, not even a reminder to pay my car insurance. And that’s exactly how I feel about it: blank, empty, free of obligation.

It’s like it’s December 3rd. Or December 5th.

I don’t care that it’s his birthday.

Ah, what a sigh of relief.

To celebrate the true spirit of my father, I’m sharing the post I wrote about our relationship and the aftermath of my assault. If his day of birth has to be celebrated, it might as well be truthful.

My Father Raped Me and I’m Better off Because of It:


SOS: I’m in Love and I Can’t Find My Way Out

I am so hopelessly in love and I’ve hit a brick wall, partly because I’m broke and tired and have no energy left, and partly because I’m discouraged. I’ve tried a million different ways to get over it:

1. chain smoking out of my car while listening to Madonna

2. drinking wine while watching Gilmore Girls, convincing myself that we are, in fact, Lorelai and Rory instead of Raia and the Girl Who Fell for a Straight Woman… yet again.

3. writing a mile a minute

4. going on dates with Republican, Jesus lovin’ good ole boys

5. having lots of meaningless sex with boys I know won’t ask me for my name and/or number

6. spending time with her as a friend, asking the dreaded question, “How’s it going with that guy you keep talking about?”

7. full on denial and chalking up my heartache to my own depression and anxieties (which is false)

I stayed with her last night and we watched AbFab, which of course I came to adore. I will probably watch it again tonight… and again tomorrow and the next day until it no longer reminds me of her, even though it probably always will.

I know I’m in love with her because all I want is for her to be happy and taken care of. I want to turn on the Television of Life and see that the highest rated program is her saga, a tale of the truest, rawest love that ever has been. It hurts that I will on the other side of the screen, but it’ll hurt even more if she never finds it.

It’s not even physical. I’ve come to realize that intimacy has nothing to do with touch. I tell her secrets and share the grittiest details of my life (well, through poetry and my writing) that I don’t share with other people. I’m the most honest with her. And when I enter her house, exhausted from a hectic day at the office, ready to spew ten minutes worth of venting onto her because I know she’ll listen, I see her in the craziest matched pajamas ever and everything else goes away. I couldn’t think of anything else to do except hug her and snuggle up to the pups, listening to the latest developments in her life, which are always interesting.

I read her entire blog from 2008, which didn’t help matters. I wish she was a terrible writer. At least then I could tell myself I was lucky to avoid a woman so useless with words. But that’s not the case. She’s amazing at telling a story, providing commentary on life (completely unashamed and with this revealing vulnerable voice). Her blog let me in on a year of her existence, a year which I spent brooding about being a sophomore at a high school without a decent theatre program. I laughed out loud thinking, That’s so Raia! and then I wanted to dial back the clock, jump into her life, hold her when she cried, tell her that it’s okay to be afraid of intimacy because I think we all are to some extent.

I left her blog wanting to ask her a million questions: What was law school really like? Was eating dinner with your parents basically like having a casual night out with brainy colleagues? Did you come out of the womb forming such clever clauses? How could anyone be anything but dazzled when you start to speak?

I’ve now seen her act. I’ve now seen her cry, laugh, grow, shrink, all of it. I keep hoping that today will be the day she’ll do something to make me snap out of it, like kill a baby, or become friends with my rapist Dad. But she never will. In fact, the hardest part of letting her go is knowing how capable she is of love. It pours out of her like she was built to make people feel as good as I do when she looks at me.

I know she’s selfish at times and could totally regulate her emotions better (but so could I). And I know she’s intense (although I hardly see that as a bad thing), opinionated, sometimes loud, sometimes too quiet and caught up in her own head, unpredictable, too sensitive, she smokes, takes a few hits here and there, still lives at home, this list could go on a bit further.

But the point is, it could wrap around the earth endlessly, and a list of her bad qualities still wouldn’t outnumber her pure, worldly essence that I find so damn addicting. I got a quick fix last night, I’ll see her again probably in the next week, come to her shaking from withdrawals, fill myself up on her words long enough to sulk back to work and breath easy enough to appear functioning to my friends.

But I’m going to have to break the habit. I can’t have her. I will never be able to have her. I need to give it up and move on.

I suppose AA might need another token collector.

Le sigh…..

14 Things Independent Women in Their Early 20s Shouldn’t be Ashamed of

All the ladies, who are independent, throw your hands up at me! (I know, it’s most likely in frustration.) But really, it’s getting ridiculous, right? Ladies, we are ALLOWED to be headstrong, audacious, and unapologetic when it comes to what we want. Having control over our lives is essential to our sanity and well-being. As is Nutella and late night wine rants.

And if you’re reading this, you have most likely said ‘I’m sorry’ to placate Those That Judge after asserting some form of independence or have bitten your tongue when someone made a horrendous remark regarding bitchy women. It’s usually along the lines of ‘she just doesn’t get how to be a lady’ or ‘why can’t she just wear a nice dress and make-up to my parent’s house?’

I’m here to tell you, that if ever there was a time to salute your middle finger, it’s now, because it’s okay to bend society’s standards and shatter the pressures on the young women of our generation. It’s OKAY to abandon the paradox of being approachable, yet flawless; a guy’s girl, yet the epitome of classy; a shameless beer guzzler, yet devoted drunk babysitter. (We can’t all be JLaw.)

And we can’t win, so we’ve stopped playing the game. And that’s something to be ashamed of. So pick up your pawn, and starting knocking over the opponents. Embrace your inner fire of intimidation and keep burning through life. Ignore your haters; bear hug those who are smart enough to love and support you.

And whatever you do, never cower in shame when practicing the following:

  1. Not Owning Enough Bras- We are never going to own enough bras because ONE SINGLE BRAZZIERE costs more than our entire coffee allowance for the month. So, go on with your bad self, and wear that bra a third (or fourth) day in a row. And spend your hard earned cash on a good delicates bag to throw in the wash. Oh, and always a cup o’ Joe. “I’ll have a quad venti latte, please!”
  2. Going Out With Friends Instead of Doing Laundry- I can’t tell you how many bonding experiences I almost missed because ‘I needed to do a quick load of laundry and fiddle around in my house pretending to get chores done.’ You can clean the coffee maker when you’re dead and stuck haunting your roommate for leaving your dirty dishes in front of your bedroom door. Go have that drink, shake your bum, and throw a few skirts and tops in the wash on your way out!
  3. Doing Laundry Instead of Going out with Friends- If you’re an independent woman with a streak of OCD, OWN THAT FLAWLESSNESS. Secretly, we all wish we were as neat as you. If you know the only thing you’ll see at the bottom of your empty beer mug is the pile of laundry waiting for you at home, sit this one out. Sometimes there really are no clean clothes left. And sometimes, it’s Sunday and that has been your laundry day since middle school. We understand. And we love you for it. I’ll bring a bag of chocolates by and we’ll catch up on your day off.
  4. Spending Time Alone Watching TV- Sometimes, we find ourselves alone on the couch with zero missed calls or unanswered texts, and we’re left to entertain ourselves. Or, sometimes, we’re the ONLY PERSON in our friend group watching Grey’s Anatomy and no one will binge watch it with us. And that’s okay. Being comfortable with yourself in your froggie bathrobe and a midnight treat is important. Plus, no one will talk through your favorite parts or judge you for eating that entire jar of pickles.
  5. Not Saving Money- Let’s face it: between the ages of 20 and 25, saving money is next to impossible. Living is expensive. It doesn’t have to be a permanent arrangement, but neglecting your savings account for a few years will not end you or make you a bad person. It makes you human. Besides, who has enough income for a savings account when we owe on student loans (or hospital bills, or credit card accounts) AND we work entry level jobs?
  6. Bouncing Between Friend Groups- This week, Bethany is my girl. We’ll go the latest art exhibit, argue about politics, and sip on pretentious wine at a downtown bistro. Next week, I’ll be engrossed in some television show with Shannon and we won’t leave her bedroom unless it’s to go to work or refill the cheez-its bowl. Why choose? Why set limits? True, your life could naturally settle down around a few choice friends, but it’s okay to not be there yet (or ever). It’s okay to explore your options just a little longer (or forever).
  7. Experimentation- So you’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to smoke a cigarette, or ride on the back of a motorcycle, or to have sex with a girl and if you like it (trust me, it’s stupendous). SO WHAT? Eighty years ago, women wanted to know what it was like to not wear a bra. Own your choices, and whether or not you liked what you tried on, know that you at least gave it a shot. Now you know how much a cigarette can choke you.
  8. Cutting People out of Your Life- It’s not bitchy to say, ‘We just can’t be friends because your attitude and behavior bring me down.’ It’s not even bitchy to stop answering someone’s phone calls because they can’t seem to keep up with you. That’s life. Not everyone can be around us. Not everyone has something to offer us. If they get in the way of your life, ask them to move. If they don’t, cut them out.
  9. Having More Than One Job- Independent women like nothing more than to be able to take care of themselves. And if it takes two jobs to do that, we will. We’re told it’s okay to accept help, but no one ever tells us that it’s also okay to try doing things on our own. I work two jobs so I can pay the electricity bill AND afford beer on Friday nights. It isn’t a crime, and I like it better than having to call Mom for a spare 100 bucks every month. If that’s you, too, it’s more than okay. Hard work and persistence teach us things calling home for money won’t.
  10. Living at Home- Sometimes, living is too expensive. Sometimes there are circumstances preventing us from being our full, independent selves. Sharing a bathroom with Grams again might teach you a thing or two about patience. Helping your siblings with high school homework might keep your brain in tip top shape. Fighting with your mom about the amount of coffee mugs in your room at any given time will force you to realize what a slob you are. Also, think of all that cash your saving!
  11. Living with Friends- When I moved out, I was scared shitless. But I came to a realization over the summer: I’m completely okay with what a slob I am. I also want to be able to shower in the morning without three people banging on the door, yelling at me to hurry up. So, I moved out. I grumble about bills every month, but I have people over whenever I want, I decide when to clean my room, and I always have a built-in wingman (thanks, roomie!).
  12. Being in a Serious Relationship- “But, can you even drink at your wedding?” The answer is yes, bitch, yes I can. And there will probably be a pre-game champagne drink-off in the bride’s dressing room. Independent women are catches. Sometimes guys or gals catch us before adulthood does. And honestly, if I found my true love right now I’d rejoice knowing I’d have someone to face the next few years of young twenty-hood with.
  13. Being Single- On the flip side, it’s also okay to fly solo and figure out life for yourself. I have learned more about insane asylums (late night insomnia), stage managing, and cooking than I probably would have had I a significant other. And if I wasn’t a catch before, I’m certainly one now, one who makes a mean chicken parmesan.
  14. Not Being in College- I saved this for last, because it’s the easiest thing for me to be ashamed of. Yes, it’s hard watching my friends graduate, and yes it’s hard to deal with the family judgment I often get, but it’s not nearly as hard as moving through the motions of getting a degree I don’t want. It’s more than okay to carve out a different life path than your peers. If college isn’t for you right now, that doesn’t mean it won’t be there when you’re ready for it again. Some people take more than six years to get their degree. Some of us women decide a degree isn’t for us at all. Some of us go to beauty school and live for doing hair and make-up. Some of us will join the Peace Corps and save third world countries. Follow your passions, the rest shall follow. It might be hard at times, going against the grain, but if you’re truly an independent woman, you’ll persevere. AND WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE, THAT’S OKAY.


There are not enough people telling the truth these days, so here I am. I want people to read this and take something away from my life. I want a sexual assault survivor to read this and find comfort. I want my generation to read this and realize how mean we are to each other. I want straight white men to read this and actually take my thoughts into consideration. Mostly, I want to come back and read this, ten years from now, and acknowledge the naked truth of my college aged years, and smile because I am changed.

This is going to be shameless, this is going to offend people, and if you know me and read this, you might not like what I have to say about you. But my middle finger is poised and I’m not backing down.

Let’s lay out some facts: I am a sexual assault survivor, an incest survivor, an emotional abuse survivor, a lesbian, and a woman. Given America’s track record with all of the aforementioned identities, my life should completely blow. After all, America, you keep telling me to ‘get over it’ or ‘just take pills until your eyes glaze over with apathy’ or ‘it was your fault for being slutty’ or ‘you’re an abomination for loving another woman’ or ‘get back to your desk and sort my mail, W-O-M-A-N.’

I haven’t had my eyebrows waxed in months; I quit shaving my armpits for two weeks because I liked the feel of hair better than I liked the feel of razor burn. I shaved them Sunday because I wanted to wear a sleeveless dress to church and I like the way I look when they’re shaved sometimes. I change my mind at least 784,651 times a day. I will always drink coffee and red wine. And I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE ANYMORE FOR NOT BEING BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH, NICE ENOUGH, SANE ENOUGH OR SMART ENOUGH FOR YOU.

If you don’t like who I am, that I wear a size 8 in blazers but a 10 in pants, that I would almost always prefer a dog’s company than yours, and that my teeth will always be crooked, then don’t associate with me. I’m fine with that. I’m fine with me, just the way I was born, just the way I’ll stay.

So, to shut your pondering up, my life does not blow.

I have severe PTSD and it gets worse with each step I take into denial and suppression. BUT, I have friends and family who don’t let me take too many steps before pulling me back out and shoving me into the direction of therapy and action plans.

I lost half of my family because they can’t believe that a father would rape his daughter. I lost them to fear and guilt and denial so opaque that it completely covered up what really happened, and that it’s become their truth, their reality. BUT I have gained about 15 beautiful people and like pounds around my waist, they latch on and hold me near.

I cannot trust humankind the way I once used to. A part of me will always question the authority of the word ‘NO.’ After all, what good did that word do when my father pressed himself into my temple, the body and soul he promised to protect and love unconditionally? BUT time has been on my side and the longer people stay in my life, the easier it gets to trust them fully. I have been blessed with angels who are patient when I have lunatic freak outs and who have a deep, endless understanding of me.

There are days I wish I was strong-willed enough to just end it. But dying scares me more than living does, and it may not seem like it, but sometimes that’s enough of a reason to smile, a triumph in and of itself. There are moments when I wish for some sort of physical pain to distract me from the weeping emotional wounds of being ripped apart and neglected. And it’s enough, sometimes, to throw a Band-Aid over the gushing slit and say, ‘I will stitch it up tomorrow because today it hurts too badly.’

Sometimes, I look in the mirror and see a goddess. I’m wearing loyalty and love like a choker and I adore the way I look when I smile like I mean it. Other days, I see a blob of uncertainty and sadness, a goop of unmalleable material slumped in a frumpy coat with too much lint on it. But every day, I make the decision to face the world.

I called in sick once in the six months I’ve been at this job to take a mental health day.

I took a half morning off to get my ears drained after a nasty bout of sinusitis.

I have been more than five minutes late twice, less than five minutes, seven times.

That is not the model for a superb employee, but given the many days, afternoons, and mornings my coworkers have taken off, I’m doing pretty well. And if I’m being honest (which started this whole project), I have wanted to call in sick every day, after the novelty of having a ‘big girl job’ wore off by week two.

In high school, I was fairly meek and weak. I switched schools to sing and act, and when I got to college, I took my performance abilities to the Stage of Life. I befriended a bunch of gays (God bless every single one of them), and threw shade to get back at everyone who had covered me with their own leafy twigs of gossip. I developed a habit of passive aggressive, competitive tendencies and lashed out at the people I loved the most. Bad habits have a way of sticking around.

Two weeks ago, one of the strongest women I have ever met (and since we’re still being honest, the love of my life) sat me down, told me my words were cruel, sobbed her way even further into my heart, and begged me with her mouth and eyes not to say things like “you abandoned me and somebody else thinks so, too” especially when it’s not true.

She is most definitely in the right.

I have had my come to Jesus moment. I sat on her bed, stared at stinging words in the heavy air, words I couldn’t take back, words that had only intensified in cruelness. I was face to face with a terrible defense mechanism I developed to keep people at a safe distance, and for the first time I really saw what words to do people.

What ‘no’ should have meant to my father.

What ‘you’re fat and ugly and crazy’ did to me the first 18 years of my life.

I had a realization that day: I was a self-pitying, raging hypocrite. Here I am, plodding through life, yelling things at people like, ‘don’t hurt me!’ and ‘love me unconditionally!’ and ‘I love you back!’

But my actions did not match my words. I wasn’t holding people accountable for their actions, but more importantly, I wasn’t holding myself accountable, either. I was, as I take a sharp breath, being pathetic.

I got all of my dirty tricks from the culture of modern society. It comes from a place of growing insolence and total apathy toward the human race. We tell each other to get lost two days after proclaiming undying love, we jokingly say ‘I’m so fat’ to our girlfriends while secretly hoping they’re the ones who will gain five pounds this year, not us. We get jealous over stupid things like financial success and who has better hair. We focus so much on what we don’t have, what we want to have one day, what we had in the past. What about right now?

I should get off my pedestal now and say, that I am guilty of every single one of these things. I stopped answering a friend’s calls completely because I ‘couldn’t deal with her anymore.’ Truth? I hated being friends with someone who was better at being human than me. It scared me how solid our relationship was, how whole and uncomplicated our time was together. And I self-sabotaged, because some sick part of me feeds on drama and complicated relationships. Yes, you heard that right. I stopped answering her calls because I was bored and unwilling to admit how screwed up I can be.

Playing the victim card helped me feel less guilty for a while. How can I possibly repair a relationship while I was dealing with the aftermath of rape and grief? It became my mantra: “I can’t because I was raped.” I wore my tragedy like lipstick, kissed everyone with it, and got offended if other people didn’t want to be coated in red, too.

I blamed everyone but myself, and never learned my lesson.

Until two weeks ago.

And it’s been nagging at me because I have made so many poor decisions in the year following my rape. I slept with people just to say I had or because they felt safe, or because settling is better than having nothing at all. I crushed people with showering affection one day and complete silence the next. I led people on because I liked the attention, and the desperation of fear, fear of not finding love, fear of finding it and losing it, fear of living in general, became the fuel for my addiction. I craved a warm body to hold me, a flattering mouth to quiet my demons, and a hand to make circles on my back when I cried.

In keeping with my pledge of honesty, I can’t say I’m a completely different person than I was two weeks ago.

But I’m more aware, and more willing than ever to turn things around. I have this new hope coated in light and simple purity, bathing my skin with love, egging on my newfound purpose.

I want to let go of the negativity, the endless worrying, the psychoanalyzing, the obsession with getting love in all the wrong places.

I want to lounge around with my friends and watch copious amounts of television without feeling any anxiety.

I want to get up and notice first how beautiful the sunrise is and second how much I miss my family.

I hope, more than anything that my words affect someone. I hope my words challenge another young woman to take a closer look at her interpersonal relationships and self-treatment.

If I’m being honest, though, I mostly just hope that writing this provides a sense of relief and clarity for my muddled mind.


The aftermath of sexual assault is always confusing and tough, specifically when dealing with lovers and partners. I struggle, even a year later, with letting people love me. I worry that my past will taint them somehow; I don’t want those I love to experience my pain. But we are all individuals capable of making our own decisions. So if somone decides to stick around for me, who am I to say no? Besides, and I can finally say this after a year, I AM WORTH IT.