I’m panicking. I’m screaming. I’m crying.
“No! Don’t do it! Mom, tell them to stop! I don’t want this to happen!”
The judge asks if anyone can calm me or remove me from the room. My mom has a firm grip on my arm so I don’t cause a bigger scene as she talks to our representation. The woman steps forward to tell the judge that we no longer wish to press charges. The judge is unhappy that we’ve wasted his time, and he dismisses us after giving his sentence: registering as a sex offender and two years of probation.
Nine years later, and I still wonder if I made the right decision… How do you sleep at night knowing your rapist is free because you didn’t want to hurt him? I’m very open to talking about my experience if it can help someone else, so the question often arises…
“But he ruined your life, so why didn’t you ruin his?”
To debunk the common myth that raping someone makes them inherently damaged and worthless, the fuck it does. I am not porcelain. I am not breakable. I am not damaged goods. My vagina is still just as worthy of sex as any other vagina. I am still a human being, capable of love and lust and happiness and sadness. He didn’t ruin me.
Pardon me for not being a vindictive bitch at the age of twelve. But, y’know maybe it takes knowing the story to understand my reasons.
At 12 years old I was the normal, completely oblivious little girl who kept her nose in a book. I had a whopping total of three friends: Chance, Freya, and Declan. Chance was my best friend at the time. Freya is the little sister of Declan. Declan is my rapist, but he was once more than that. RAINN statistics state that 4/5 sexual assaults are made by a person known to the victim, while 47% of rapists are friends or acquaintances with the victim. Declan fit those statistics. He helped me with homework. My mom treated him like the older brother I should have had. We were thick as thieves, always together and always getting into trouble. I thought he hung the moon. So when it happened, when he raped me, it’s understandable that I was confused. He’d done it. He’d threatened my baby brother’s life if I told anyone. He’d yelled at me and hurt me, and I felt like it was my fault.
That’s the problem with rape culture: at 12 years old, I thought it was my fault that I was raped by a guy who had obviously targeted a girl who was five years younger than him because it’d be easy to manipulate her. For months, I told no one not only because I was afraid for my baby brother’s life, but also because I thought it’d make me a slut.
Thankfully, Chance saw a drastic change in my appearance and demeanor. I started to cut, I wore clothes that covered me completely (not out of fear that people would see the self-harm, but so that I would be undesirable to men), I became incredibly reckless with my life. When Chance noticed, I was probably one cut away from killing myself out of shame. He hugged me as I cried out my confession that I’d “made Declan rape me.” He promised it’d be between us, our little secret. Luckily, Chance had other things in mind. He saw my destructive path and knew the only way to save my life would be to tell my mom.
Which brings me to my mom’s realization that I’d kept my first secret from her, and boy was she pissed. I remember the screaming phone calls, the angry crying, the self-hatred of not keeping her baby girl safe, the pride she felt knowing her baby girl had endured all of this for the sake of keeping her brother out of harm’s way, the shame she felt for thinking those thoughts. My mom was a catastrophic wreck. It no longer was my fault; it was all hers, or so she thought.
Fast forward through the months of pressing charges, refusing to cooperate, getting Declan kicked out of his house because he’d also been molesting Freya, being condemned by my church because I was no longer a virgin, and now we’re at the incident that starts this post…
I couldn’t do it. I still thought it was fault. The therapists, social workers, my mom, Chance…. No one had changed my mind. I couldn’t let Declan go to jail when society told me it was my fault. So I let him go. At this point, various people like to tell me I developed Stockholm Syndrome during the year between being raped and the court date. Maybe that’s true. Maybe I sympathized with the boy I thought I knew. It doesn’t really matter now.
He’s free. He’s living his life, and he’s dating a girl younger than me. Luckily, she’s 18. Unfortunately, he’s 26. I don’t know if his list of victims stopped at Freya and I. I hope it did. I’ve grown immensely in the last nine years. I now know it was never my fault, and that I did let Declan manipulate me in that way so I wouldn’t want to hurt him. I don’t regret letting him go. I am awed by my 12 year old self’s ability to be compassionate and to see others complexly.
Declan may be my rapist, but he is also a friend to many, a son to loving parents, a boyfriend to a wonderful girl. Raping me does not define him, just as being raped does not define me.
Do I still get scared? Do I have nightmares? Do I sometimes have to sleep with my mom out of fear because he’ll somehow find me and hurt me again? Do I experience crippling, detailed flashbacks of being raped?
Hell yes, I do. The time surrounding the anniversary of being raped is a petrifying ordeal for me. I have to take off work, I have to be watched, I have to be forced to eat. I have to be in constant contact with at least one person at all times. But I’m alive. I’ve made it through eight anniversaries, and I will make it through eighty more, because being raped is only a minuscule fraction of my story, and I’m here to share it all.
My message to rape victims: you are loved, you are important, you are worth it, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Or I will personally fuck some bitches up.
With love, my spirits. Take care!
**The names in this blog have been changed to protect identities.
**Rape is a very serious matter. Tasteless jokes and comments regarding the subject material will NOT be tolerated.
**This is MY story. Just because I chose not to prosecute my rapist does not in ANY WAY mean that others should not. My story is unique, just as all victims’ stories are.