All the Stars

A decade ago, rape tainted my entire world. Everything seemed sick with it. Every scent and sight was infected by trauma. Getting help for the toxic mess I became was harder than all my years of stasis. I wanted to give up a hundred times, and the counsellors would always say the same thing:

“Don’t quit before the miracle happens.”

That sounded like something I could do: just keep moving and one day, suddenly, all the stars would fall from the sky and light my life. It didn’t happen that suddenly, but the miracle did arrive. As an atheist, I don’t even believe in miracles, but I always use mystical language when I write about it because it felt like magic. It still does.

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Trauma made my body a war zone, a place of chaos and shame and scars, but I won just as thousands and thousands have done before me. I think survivors might be the only victors in this story because we will never know the emotional poverty that our rapists have to live with. When we recover, we’re free. As long as we don’t quit before the miracle happens… well… we get the miracle.

Those who tried to destroy us only get hatred and the loneliness of a lifetime of secrets.

I’m not advocating for a mass empathy drive for assholes. No. I’m saying we get our just revenge.  Nor am I saying rape’s a blessing. I’m saying trauma ends, and when it does, we get to live a rewarding life. I sound like some kind of vindictive Pollyanna, but I might as well own it. I came out the other side with all my magic intact. I’m convinced that my rapist didn’t.

As survivors, we can break the silence. We can find companionship by telling our stories, and when we no longer need to tell those stories, we get to share our hope. We get to love. We get to watch miracle after miracle unfold in front of our own eyes.

As for our rapists, their own horror and dearth must taint their entire worlds. Every scent and sight must seem sick with it.

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