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Thread by @kellyawallace: "I wish more of the MeToo conversation focused on what happens after you're sexually assaulted. Our conversation right now is focused on what […]" #MeToo

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I wish more of the #MeToo conversation focused on what happens after you're sexually assaulted. Our conversation right now is focused on what happens to the perpetrators. Let me tell you a little bit about what happened after I was raped.
First of all, I live a plane flight away from my family. So, after I called the police, I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, alone. One bright light in this horrible experience came via @rapevictimadv, who had a volunteer visit me in the hospital and stay with me.
So, I spent the night in the hospital getting a rape kit, and then wasn't sure what to do. I was raped at home, in my apartment, so the idea of going back there gave me panic attacks. Besides that, the police had taken half my bedroom as evidence.
Luckily, I had a friend whose mother allowed me to stay a few days while I got my head back on. I had to spend money I did not have replacing the things that were taken as evidence, and things I could not use anymore because of how much they reminded me of the assault.
Then there was the medical stuff. The worst of it was Truvada. Oh man, that sucked. It's an HIV preventative that maybe works and maybe doesn't but it definitely makes you feel like shit for a month and there's nothing you can do about it.
Maybe I just had a bad reaction to it but I felt like I had the flu for like four weeks. It made me super fun to be around and definitely didn't exacerbate the emotional exhaustion I was feeling. Except it did, a lot.
At first, I told a few people I thought would be supportive, who seemed like "safe" bets to offer some comfort. I was right about some of those people. I was depressingly wrong about others. I lost one of my best friends because he "didn't know how to talk to me anymore".
That's the gamble I took every day after the rape. I wasn't myself, I was suffering from what I didn't realize at the time was PTSD, and people wonder about that. But they ask, and it's a mental negotiation.
Do I want to make this person uncomfortable? Will they ask what I was wearing? Will they make me tell the whole story? Do I even have the energy to do this right now? There is no winning, there is no good answer. I fumbled through it. I mostly stayed inside a lot.
Multiply those anxieties by a billion for conversations with your family. Bonus points if you have a religious family that barely acknowledges sex or sexuality in any way at all. I still cringe thinking about trying to cobble together the vaguest possible responses to my dad.
I said "I'm fine" about a thousand times and it was a lie every single time. I tried therapy, I tried EDMR, I tried yoga. I couldn't write, I barely slept. I blamed myself over and over again for not working harder or getting more done.
There were two things that got me out of the house. My dog and the Chicago @Cubs. You might be laughing, or rolling your eyes, or thinking I'm full of crap, but that's literally what did it. I adopted a puppy, and the Chicago Cubs were on their way to the World Series.
I was so proud of myself when I went to a game at Wrigley and got through the whole thing, surrounded by tons of people and potential triggers, without a single panic attack. It was a huge milestone. (And the Cubs won.)
That's the thing. The little stuff becomes a huge deal. Sleeping through the night? Holy crap. Answering the phone? Amazing. Going to the grocery store on my own? That's was like winning an Olympic medal huge.
It took months for me to be able to pick my schedule back up and start working again. I burned through my savings and hated myself even more for losing out on so much work and being so broke. If I could've gotten my shit together, I rationalized, I could make rent.
It messes with your head. Everything about that summer, that whole year, feels completely inseparable from the incident. Oh, and you never know what to call it. The rape? Assault? Incident? Call it anything you want, it all feels wrong no matter what.
Almost two years later, sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. Sometimes I don't even feel like I know that person anymore. The person who got raped. And sometimes it feels like it was yesterday, and I can't sleep.
People who look like my attacker still make me anxious. Sleeping in my bedroom is still triggering sometimes. Watching the news these days is a hellscape. Sometimes the only thing I feel capable of doing is lying in bed. Being raped is not a one-time thing.
The act of rape is temporary. The experience of being raped changes the way you engage with the world for the rest of your life.
I don't know how to end this, but I just want to say...as we have these conversations, think about more than just what happened. Think about what happens next. And if you're feeling generous, please give @rapevictimadv all of your money so they can keep doing their amazing work.
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