The hardest part of recovery from sexual assault, at least for me, has been defining my feelings towards my attackers. The first assault happened, and shortly after my assailant disappeared from my life. He never stuck around after the fact, which I think is what’s helped me “get over it” so quickly. Well that, and the fact that I haven’t been able to recall the full memories of what happened. I only have bits and pieces here and there, beyond that the rest of it is lost. I focus mostly on my second assault for SAAM, and all of my other awareness endevours because that’s the one that I have been able to remember. Having complete memories of it has made the impact on my life much more profound than the first assault. Forming a relationship with my rapist, battling feelings of genuine love vs anger. Knowing that I was merely an object to him, but choosing to believe his lies of love and a future together instead.
All of those things, consistently rattle around in my head after a triggering event. Not daily, thank God, but consistently every time I’m triggered. You know the things that hurt the most? It’s not memories of the trauma. I can sit here and preach about that all day long without shedding a tear now that I’ve accepted it and moved forward. It’s the memories of the good times. The days when he treated me well, and did everything right. Everything that you would expect from a genuine, loving, partner who truly cared about your well being. The reasons I fell in love with him despite the assault and the cheating and every other toxic, abusive trait he displayed. The days that kept me from completely losing my shit and going insane. The very same days that he now uses against me, trying to disprove my claims of abuse and rape. Those things hurt more than any trauma he ever put me through.
I thought I was prepared to deal with that facet of my recovery journey as I gather my writing for my book, but I’m not. I’ve been working on one chapter all week, and I just can’t move forward. There are no written words to convey my feelings, to describe his deception accurately with out tearing open the wounds all together in the first place. Reliving those good memories boil my blood. I know, it’s pretty much opposite of how most people react. The fact that he raped me doesn’t inspire the same level of anger as the fact that he aided in the repression of my memories by being a perfect example of a gentleman the next time we were together. That brings out my Hulk Smash.
The fact that so many people look at our relationship collectively and can only see either the black or white forgetting that the reality I live with is firmly mired in grey. I didn’t just experience horrors unspeakable with this man, staying with him out of some misguided cognitive dissidence or codependency. There were an abundance of good days too.
On his good days he did live up to every expectation that someone looks for in a potential partner. He took care of me when I was sick, he helped around the house, he called me through out the day just because, he paid for most meals unless I insisted otherwise, he interacted well with most of my family, he even dropped my little sister off at prom because she didn’t have a date and didn’t want to show up alone.
And he raped me, he cheated on me consistently, he lied to me about our relationship. He used me, took full advantage of my innocence, robbed me of what could have been some of the best years and experiences in my life and never even thought twice about it. Well, no I can’t say he never thought about what he was doing, because he did. He just never acted on putting a stop to it until the very last possible second, for whatever his own reasons may be.
All of those things are true. I know now that the likelihood of his good days being genuine is a stretch at best. They were probably just something convenient to keep me around, the typical cat and mouse, predator and prey scenario. My intellegence KNOWING that, and my emotions FEELING that aren’t cooperating and it really kind of pisses me off. More so as time marches forever forward putting more distance between me and the events of my past.
Making things infinitely worse are those well intentioned folks who ask me: “He raped you, how the hell can you still have compassion for this guy? He deserves to rot in jail! He’s a slime ball! Revenge! Karma! Anger!” Who immediately jump to the conclusion that I must not be telling the truth about some facet of our relationship when I tell them I don’t necessarily want him to suffer, even though I want accountability for his crimes.
It’s like that song I shared a few weeks back. Everyone was supportive, and excited when I shared something stating that rapists should suffer, but the article I posted stating how it was wrong to wish rape on rapists went ignored as if there is something wrong with reaching the level of healing that transcends anger. Because moving forward past the stage of anger is merely a part of the healing process. It’s a part of the process that many people never reach, but when those of us that do are ridiculed for it… it’s really no wonder why.
I have experienced the anger that so many other survivors use to fuel their movement forward. I recognize that I’ve been victimized by this guy on more than one occasion. I understand that having compassion, and offering my forgiveness does nothing to change the situation current or past between us. I get it. I just don’t have that lingering hatred or anger that society thinks I should have, as a “genuine” victim of this kind of crime, and in a way it makes me feel even more broken. Then I have to wonder if the abuse was really so bad that my anger response has been completely brainwashed out of me. If I am really that “crazy” to forgive despite the atrocities.
That’s been the hardest and only part of my recovery that I can’t seem to master, no matter how hard I try. Love, hate. Black, white. Up, down. Jeckle, Hyde. Yes, no. Or something in the middle… I do know for 1000% sure, that I never want to see, speak to, or hear from him again. Whatever compassion, fond memories, or nostalgic stories about our time together I might have, will never change that. Even if I do have them lingering through my conscious thoughts anytime I’m triggered.