After my rape, I lost a lot of friends. Experiencing that level of betrayal by someone who I considered a friend forced me to reevaluate all my relationships. And if it wasn’t this sudden distrust of the people I had previously felt close to, it was the fact that a lot of people couldn’t handle supporting me through the shit-show that was the months (and years) after my assault. I don’t really blame them. I was unable to go to parties, got frustrated at the smallest things, and I cried more than once most days.
Especially for the first couple months, I shut almost everyone out. I didn’t care to discuss anything of importance—I didn’t really care to say anything at all. I was a shell of who I had been and no one knew what to say or do around me.
That being said, my assault pulled me in close to the people who are now my best friends.
The first person I told about that night was a friend—but we didn’t know each other very well at the time. I admit I didn’t make the conscious decision to tell her at all. I had been drinking. A lot. And I wound up in her room at the end of the night and tears started pouring out. I told her something “bad” had happened a few weeks before with guy #2 and I didn’t know what to do. She figured it out from there.
And then she was perfect. She suggested I try talking to a counselor. And the next day she walked with me to our campus counselor center and sat with me as I signed up for a first appointment. From there she kept me company between my classes so I didn’t have to be alone in public places where I might see him. She let me talk if I wanted to, or stay silent if I needed that. She was there.
And I know she got exhausted of taking care of me at times. But she kept showing up until I was ready to let other people in.
This friend and I now have a relationship that she describes as “one of the more beautiful and trusting and calming and INCREDIBLY supportive friendships.” I love her so much, and am perpetually thankful for what she did for me the night I shared my story with her and everything she has done for me since.
I would never say what happened to me was a good thing. I would never, ever say that. But the tiniest amount of light poking through the rubble that was my assault was Emma/Luisa/Matt/Emily/Mac/John and my mom/dad/Trevor/Eric/Kristi/Mei looking at me in my absolute broken state and believing in me enough to know my hurt wouldn’t last forever. They were the ones offering to punch guy #2 in the face, returning my texts at 4 in the morning, and refusing to let me feel like I would ever have to be warrioring alone.
Thank goodness for them.
Of course, there were many more people who, unlike these supporters, were not ready to know the hurting, warrior me. And this really, really hurt. But what I’ve learned in my own personal experiences and through talking to many warriors, is that the healing power of one true supporter far outweighs the pain that comes with the realization that some people can’t handle the you that has experienced something terrible.
If you can, be that supporter.