I'll never forget the day that I first shared with someone that I had been sexually assaulted. At the time, I was 15 and had just transferred to my abuser’s high school. I was forced to see him in the halls every single day and his locker was not far from mine. Before school, after school, in between classes, even at lunch. He also lived in the same apartment complex as me and went to my church. We sang in the same youth choir. Read church announcements. His parents knew my parents. I even babysat his little brothers. There was no getting away from him. Inside, I was reeling. A windstorm of anger, fear, frustration, and embarrassment had kept me silent for 2 years.
I recall feeling helpless as I lay there, his hands gripping my wrists and being in so much pain I thought I'd vomit. All I heard in those moments and for years after was his voice saying, "If you tell, you're gonna get it." I didn't know exactly what that meant but it was enough for me to keep my jaws clenched shut even though my insides, my youth, the child, the little girl, inside of me was screaming out in terror. I remained silent until coming across the person I would finally tell.
I transferred to another school and met my first real boyfriend. A football player and I was in love. He was sweet, kind, generous, funny, and respectful. It was the first time I felt safe in a long time, despite the turmoil I had going on inside of me. I'll never forget the phone call to him, explaining my constant mood swings, anger, and bitterness. I felt he needed to know that I was hurting. Little did I know that his next words would sting like salt on an already open and bloody wound. I was in tears and finally said it, aloud for the first time, the words I was forced to choke down for 2 years, "James raped me." His response was, "Are you sure?"
Long explanations aren’t required to understand that second guessing a victim is part of how rape culture is defined.
When we ask:
“Are you sure?"
“How many drinks did you have?”
“What did you do?”
“What were you wearing?” or tell someone that
"Maybe you're misremembering", we aren’t helping anyone but the abuser.
Please stop and just listen because there’s far too many of us that have been waiting too long to speak.
I like to write and share every now and then. I’m an in-process being, a lover of LIFE and inner fitness, learning, love, chunky babies and yep, Jesus. Always an open book, as sharing and helping others is my passion. Originally from Houston, Texas but currently residing in the Dominican Republic.
To keep up with Apriel, she can be found on Instagram (at request).
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS/PITCHES:
The month of May covers Lupus Awareness. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that's rarely easy to diagnose, extremely challenging to treat and live with, and currently has no cure. We are encouraging people to gain a better understanding of this illness so we're accepting submissions/pitches from people who have it, and those who have family members/friends who've had it or currently living with it. True understanding opens the door for compassion and empathy and with any chronic illness, this is always necessary. This is what we hope to achieve with your stories.
May is also Mental Health Month. We already devote every Monday to mental health so of course we're going to acknowledge and highlight post for this throughout the month. As a country, we focus a lot on our physical appearance, leaving our mental health to fend for itself. However, there are some people who take it very seriously and maintain their mental health on a daily. We're interested in hearing what your support groups and selfcare look like, what your battles involve, and how we can all be more empathetic towards those living with mental illness.
Please send all pitches/submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 23, 2018.
We look forward to hearing from you!