I can close my eyes and still feel like it happened just yesterday.
Last August I became a victim—and a survivor—of rape.
Because of one night with too many tequila shots—in an attempt to fit in— and my inability to say no, due to lack of consciousness.
The morning after was the worst. The realization of what had happened—and not only that I had lost my virginity to rape—but that I had lost my sense of security and worth as well.
A year and a half prior, I had attempted suicide and spent 225 days at in-patient treatment, working towards bettering myself and finding a desire to live again. This event—the rape—nearly broke me.
I’ll admit that my first thoughts went to suicide, because I could not fathom surviving something like this, but somehow I thought back to all those months that I had spent in recovery and remembered why I chose life in the first place.
As a young child, I was always told that wearing my heart on my sleeve was not the wisest thing to do. That it would leave me susceptible to more pain and more sadness. When I was in treatment I had reflected on this in a group session and later in a journal entry, where I wrote, “I wear my heart on my sleeve and my life story on my wrists—I hope someday someone gains something from this.”
I simply chose life, so that I might help others do the same.
Remembering that I chose to fight against my mental health disorders and live for that reason, is the same reason that has helped me choose life after I was raped.
I went through the motions of getting a rape kit, and I was told that my case was never going to make it to court, because it was “he said, she said” and going in for the two week follow up that was immensely invasive, painful and humiliating.
I clawed my way through the five stages of grief because I lost pieces of myself that I never got back after that night, and eventually, I was ready to open up and share my story. So, about eight months after the incident, I took to my blog and wrote a post entitled, “Tea’s Story.”
I let the words flow from my wounds, and my heart, in an earnest attempt to help other survivors.
Then I went on living my life, but day by day I still struggled. I thought, “Is this really as good as it gets?”
It wasn’t enough for me, and I knew it must not be enough for others either. One morning I found myself fresh out of the shower and looking at myself in the mirror with utter disgust. I still felt so filthy. I still felt so ashamed, so unworthy.
The tears came to my eyes, and stung like salt to a wound, and I cried out the word, “No!” over and over and over—because I had never had a chance to say it in the first place.
That was the morning that I realized we need to say no after—even after.
No to the shame, the guilt, the humiliation and the feelings of unworthiness.
All of it.
No, no, no, no!
We cannot change what has happened to us, but we can change our perceptions of ourselves afterwards. We can choose to say no, even after. We can choose to spread the message of saying no after to other survivors and maybe help those who have been unable to heal, finally start healing.
Together, we can all blossom in our recovery.
Author: Teagan Kempe
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: YouTube screenshot