How To Write About Your Sexual Assault From Your Attacker’s Perspective
I hate talking about the things that happened to me. I hate sleepless nights, memories constricting my airflow, feeling his hands on me again every time anyone touches me, and flashbacks so vivid it’s almost impossible to bring myself back down to earth. It’s been a year since I started speaking out about what happened and these are still the things my brain subjects me to sporadically throughout the day. Just. Like. Him.
To talk about things in the first place was one thing. It was raw and real and completely debilitating, but it was only supposed to be a one-time thing. Then, after everyone I thought of as a friend chose to take his side, asked me never to mention it again, I got angry. I found solace in screaming my story from the mountain tops and becoming the crazy bitch they’d made me out to be. It became fairly easy to give a voice to the things I had lived through because I was determined to sacrifice myself, my sanity, for the idea that no other human would have to suffer through any of the pain and horrors that I had.
Putting yourself in their shoes, talking about what happened from their point of view, is a whole other thing entirely. It’s an act of emotional suicide. The kind of thing you’re required to hold your own hand through because, by the time you’ve gotten to the point of considering something this drastic, everyone who might have volunteered before has already abandoned you. They left you deserted in a pool of your own blood and tears shouting at you from afar, all the ways you should have seen this coming. They tell you all the reasons it’s your fault without attributing any of the blame to the one who did this to you in the first place. They chose to leave you stranded in the exact moment you have never needed anyone more.
Now you’re angry. You’re incredibly hurt and it is incorrectly assumed that you are broken beyond repair. Desperate for both healing and retribution (it almost doesn’t matter to you which way these things manifest themselves) you decide to take the plunge into the grotesquely distorted inner working of this person’s mind. But still, you can feel there’s something missing. It’s as if the majority of the puzzle you’d spent months putting together has disappeared overnight and you can’t seem to find it anywhere. You need answers. You need to know why this happened and you need someone to tell you how to undo the many ways he has engraved his touch in your skin.
That is why you refuse to give up. Trembling with the fear of a moment relived too many times and motivated by the generations of brave women before you, you try again. Maybe if you could just get inside his head a little bit more…
It’s a horrifying thing to think there could be more to what happened than what you were there to see and feel for yourself. Humanizing him is the last thing you want to do, the very thing you’ve been begging everyone else not to do. But for some reason, in that moment of absolute rock bottomness, it’s imperative for you to take a step back and look at things from every possible viewpoint and perspective. Regardless of how much you disagree with what that person could have possibly witnessed, you keep trudging on, braving your way through the memories you’ve been doing your very best to avoid.
All too quickly, this task of yours becomes an especially difficult thing to bear. Especially when you start dissecting things and find yourself with all these newly found (yet equally as integral) parts of the story you want to include in your narrative. Every. Single. Time. It. Comes. Up. And sometimes even when it doesn’t.
Maybe that’s a part of the problem. Maybe the fact that there are so many different ways to look at each girl’s individual interactions with assault is the very thing men are using against us. They use our emotions against us, we are crazy because we feel things. We are lying because we didn’t come forward sooner. We are weak because we are honest. We are vindictive because we don’t believe their lies. Bullshit.
They shame us when we become upset and torn apart by the things they chose to do to us. They tell us we’re insane, discredit our opinions and casually toss around insults as if our hormones forbid us from telling the truth. It’s a game to them. Our lives have become a playground for their power trips, building blocks for their egos. Men have managed to convince themselves that life is a game you can only win by standing on the backs of those naive enough to trust you, that your importance lies solely in the number of people you are able to manipulate into admiring you. They have convinced us that we are missing a part of the picture, we are hallucinating, and unable to fully recall the details of the many nights they made our bodies theirs.
I promise you, you’re not. I am here to tell you that I believe you. Whether you chose to come forward or not, I believe you. And there is an army of women all over the world willing to stand behind you, encouraging you to join in our fight. We are here for you. Here to listen and support you, no matter the battles you’re fighting. You shouldn’t worry about the ways you think your recovery should look or put pressure on yourself to be okay again after a certain amount of time. Be gentle with yourself, give yourself all the love and attention you’ve been giving everybody else. You deserve it.
Women are not objects! Our sole purpose is not to inflate your egos, and if you ask me, 200,000+ years of physical abuse, sexual assault, and emotional manipulation is more than enough. It’s about damn time for a revolution.